Working from home, whether by choice or because of the Covid-19 pandemic stay-at-home guidelines, means going into the office doesn’t even require heading out the door. This does not augur well for our physical activity levels and could lead to the various negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle. These include high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, obesity and heart disease.
Therefore, it is important to take proactive steps to either get out and exercise or get fit within the confines of your home. There is a greater need to be disciplined, serious and creative to maintain our fitness levels, as working from home presents a unique set of challenges to our health.
10 tips for staying fit while working from home:
1. Set up a separate office workspace.
Set up a desk and chair in a quiet corner of the house to separate the professional from the personal. Choose a good, comfortable, ergonomically sound chair that will keep you properly aligned throughout the day. Or if work permits, consider using a standing desk to counteract the adverse effects of sitting all day. There are various kinds of standing desks and desk converters available, small ones can support a laptop and larger ones can support an external monitor too.
2. Set your work hours as in the office.
It can be tempting to wake up late and work at odd hours or work on the weekends, but sticking to regular working hours will help to better schedule exercise, recreation and family time. This will help you to relax after work, regulate waking and sleeping cycles, and maintain a healthy work-life balance which is critical to keeping fit.
3. Schedule your workouts.
Use the flexibility of WFH and control to your advantage. Use the time during which you used to commute to go for a morning jog or run. Schedule your regular workouts — morning or evening — as you do meetings, but do pencil them in before you begin working. This will help you to stay on track.
4. Go online for workouts too.
Use YouTube videos, smartphone apps, Face time or Skype group workout sessions to work out within the comfort of your home. You can access yoga, meditation, walking, pilates, kickboxing, dance, Zumba, calisthenics and other fitness videos online. Many of these videos are free, but you can pay and engage a personal trainer too.
5. Keep moving throughout the workday.
Use a timer, a smartwatch or an app to remind you to get up and move for a few minutes every hour or so. There are many micro workouts that you incorporate into your daily routine. You could walk around while taking a phone call (if you don’t have to type anything), do some light stretching exercises or simple yoga postures, go up and down the stairs, do some jumping jacks, etc. Yoga and light stretching will improve posture, flexibility, your range of motion and help to relieve your joints and aches from sitting all day.
6. Make do with whatever workout equipment you have.
Even if you do not have full-fledged gym equipment at home, sit-ups, push-ups, burpees, yoga and many other exercises do not require special equipment and can be done anywhere. For walking and running you only need sneakers and for skipping only a simple jumping rope. For weight training be creative and improvise — use heavy household items like bags of groceries or water bottles as weights. Remember, where there’s a will, there’s a way.
7. Integrate more physical activity into your daily lifestyle.
Walk or bike for daily errands like picking up groceries from the store or to eat lunch at a neighbourhood restaurant. Take up biking, running, hiking or nature walks for leisure and recreation instead of Netflix on the couch. Do simple household chores like cooking, cleaning, tidying up the house, walking and playing fetch with your dog. Take up physical hobbies like gardening which will also help you get some sunshine and fresh air. Couples, partners or roommates can take up a workout or yoga as a shared activity and bonding time. These intentional shifts in routine and lifestyle will help to clock in more steps and physical activity without setting time aside to exercise exclusively.
8. Keep yourself well hydrated.
Plan and schedule your daily water intake. Have water with you at all times to sip throughout the day. Take a water cooler break as you would in the office to fill your water bottle and get in some extra steps too. Try to cut out any sodas or sugar-filled beverages; instead, opt for lemonade, green tea, fresh fruit juices, etc.
9. Take a proper break from the screen to eat.
Take your meals and snacks in the kitchen or dining area and not at your work desk or TV screen to ensure mindful eating. This will reduce the risk of overeating. WFH can give you a chance to focus on healthy eating habits. In this regard, it helps to keep your refrigerator and pantry stocked with healthy and nutrient-dense foods like whole fresh fruits and vegetables.
10. Invest in simple pieces of home workout equipment.
There are many kinds of fitness equipment that are minimal — they take up barely any exclusive space and can be easily stowed away in a drawer or under the bed when not in use. For example a jumping rope, weights, resistance bands, a yoga mat or a pull-up bar. Hanging from a bar for several seconds can strengthen the shoulders, forearms and upper back. A fitness band can help you keep track of your steps and keep you motivated in reaching daily fitness goals.
Staying fit will improve your mood, stimulate creativity, and enhance focus, making it an all-around win for your health and productivity. So, follow the above-mentioned tips to make sure your work-from-home days aren't an excuse to get out of shape.