The convenience and flexibility that working from home offers have made it an attractive option for many professionals, not just those who are also parents. In recent years, remote work has witnessed a significant rise in popularity, particularly by parents who find remote work or flexible work to offer a much better work-life balance, particularly around doing the school run (myself included). With the freedom to work from the comfort of your own home, it may seem like physical activity would naturally take a backseat. However, it is crucial to recognize the impact that a sedentary work-from-home lifestyle can have on our physical and mental well-being.
Why do we need to be more focused on how to stay active when you work from home?
Most people who work from home work desk jobs or jobs that require them to be seated for long periods of time, often at a computer or sitting at a desk. When you go to the office, there is a certain amount of activity required, be it walking to the bus or train station, driving yourself there, walking around the office, going out for lunch breaks or moving to meeting rooms.
When we work remotely, the lines between our personal and professional lives can blur, leading to extended periods of sitting and reduced physical activity. Without the usual commute, walking to meetings, or even walking around the office, our daily movement levels can dwindle. This sedentary behaviour can contribute to a host of health issues, including weight gain, muscle stiffness, decreased energy levels, and even increased risk of chronic conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. Not to mention the mental health issues that can come from a lack of human interaction.
At the core of all of this, though, is that even when we work from home, we need to be physically active. We need to intentionally make the effort to get up from our desks and move around during the day. With that in mind, here are 36 ways to stay active when you work from home.
Set Up an Active Workspace
Sitting for prolonged periods is associated with a range of health risks, including obesity, cardiovascular disease, and musculoskeletal issues. You can make your workstation at home more active desk exercise equipment, using different pieces of exercise equipment that help you be more active when you work from home:
- Firstly, if you have a house with stairs, set your home office up in one of the upstairs rooms. This will force you to go up and down the stairs to get to the kitchen, answer the door etc. Obviously, this only works if you have this option.
- Invest in a standing desk, which lets you raise the level of your desk easily so that you can raise the level of it to stand and work rather than sit.
- Invest in wireless earphones so you can get up and walk around when you’re on calls.
- Invest in an under-desk treadmill to get your steps in whilst you’re working at your standing desk.
- Consider an ergonomic stool, a lightweight, comfortable seating option with a strong weighted dynamic base. The sloped seat keeps the core strong and strengthened.
- Small hand weights can be handy to keep on your desk, and use them to get the blood flowing when you feel like you’ve been sitting for too long.
- Swap out your chair for a gym ball.
Schedule Regular Movement Breaks
Taking frequent breaks throughout the day has numerous benefits for both our physical and mental well-being. While it may seem counterintuitive to step away from work when we have tasks to accomplish, research suggests that incorporating regular breaks into our daily routine can actually improve productivity and overall job performance. Here are some key benefits of taking frequent breaks:
- Increased Focus and Concentration.
- Enhanced Productivity.
- Improved Physical Health.
- Stress Reduction.
- Creativity and Problem-Solving.
Here are a few ways to schedule regular breaks into your work day when you work from home,or in the office – they work for both:
- Block out time in your diary to free up your schedule for lunch or take a break to make yourself a cup of coffee. Remember, if you were in the office, you’d have to get up and move to the canteen or kitchen area to make that cup of coffee or go out to get a sandwich. Block out that time in your diary when you work from home and do the same thing.
- Get a movement-tracking app or smart watch that reminds you to take regular breaks. I have an Apple Watch that reminds me to stand up and walk around for 1 minute every hour. Taking short breaks allows our brains to rest and recharge, improving focus and enhancing cognitive function when we return to work.
To maximize the benefits of breaks, it’s essential to use them intentionally and engage in activities that promote relaxation, rejuvenation, and physical activity. Set a timer to remind yourself to take regular breaks throughout the day and use this time to step away from your work area, stretch, go for a short walk, or engage in a hobby that brings you joy. Remember, incorporating breaks into your work-from-home routine is not only beneficial for your well-being but also contributes to your overall productivity and success.
Incorporate Physical Activity into Daily Routines
For many of us parents who work from home, the temptation can be there to rush every activity related to kids and the school run etc, due to some misplaced sense of guilt that we need to be seen to be working as hard as if we were in the office. But we are! That’s a debate for another time.
The point here is that if the school run takes you 5 minutes in the car, but 30 minutes to walk round trip, then shift your focus to incorporate that 30-minute walk into your schedule to prioritize your own health and wellbeing. Here are a few ideas of ways to be more physically active in your daily routine when you work from home that don’t interfere with your ability to work efficiently!
- Walk or cycle to take the kids to school, or to collect them from school, rather than driving, even if it takes longer.
- Take the dog for a walk during your lunch break.
- Hang the washing up during your morning tea or coffee break.
- If you hear the post delivered, get up from your desk to go pick it up.
- Vacuum during your lunch break
Take Advantage of Being At Home to do a Home Workout During The Day.
Here are some ideas of different home workouts you can do during your lunch break each day. And before you come at me, yes, we can all eat our food whilst working at our desk, so if we choose to use the time to exercise rather than eat, that’s just one of the many luxuries of working from home. That and being able to have a stinky tuna salad for lunch without offending your co-workers!
- Weighted Hula Hooping – I recently invested in the viral weighted hula hoop that took TikTok by storm, and honestly, the results speak for themselves. I love it because you can easily get a 30-minute cardio workout into your day, be it during your lunch break or after the kids are in bed. And it’s now a massive piece of equipment you need to find space for in your home, either.
- Do an online virtual or pre-recorded fitness class – if the pandemic lockdown did anything positive, it was shifting our mindset to realize that you don’t HAVE to leave your house to access fitness classes.
- Using resistance bands with handles can provide a versatile and effective workout for targeting various muscle groups.
- Go old-school, and go for a walk or a run around the block to get yourself out of the house and move your body.
Find Opportunities for Active Hobbies
Not all active activities have to fit around work or the kids and the school run. You can find opportunities and active hobbies that are just for you. The key here is to intentionally prioritize this time in your week. Hobbies that involve physical activity can be both mentally stimulating and physically beneficial. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Gardening – this can be a physically exertive and mentally stimulating activity that offers more than just the obvious rewards.
- Sign up for a dance, yoga or exercise class, anything that gets you out of the house and moving your body!
- Volunteer at a local community centre, retirement home or children’s centre. These activities can all serve to provide a mentally and physically rewarding benefit, not to mention the gift of giving that you’re providing.
Utilize Home Exercise Equipment
Having exercise equipment at home offers several advantages that can greatly support your fitness and well-being. You can work out at any time that suits your schedule without the need to travel to a gym or fitness centre. It also eliminates barriers like commuting time, membership fees, and crowded spaces, giving you the freedom to exercise whenever you want. And, of course, if you’re fortunate enough to have the space for home exercise equipment, then the access to it is always there.
You don’t have to go all extreme either – whilst a fancy Pelaton is great, you can probably pick up a second-hand stationary bike on your local online marketplace or a set of weights at the car boot sale. Another great place to pick up a bargain on home fitness gear is the middle aisle at Aldi or Lidl! Here are a few different pieces of home exercise equipment to consider:
- A rowing machine
- A stationary bike
- Dumbells, kettlebells or hand weights
- The weighted hula hoop
- A yoga mat
- A treadmill
- Resistance bands
- Wearable weights
- A skipping rope
- A cross trainer
- Gym balls
- A home punch bag and gloves to do some stress release!
Intentionally Practice Mindful Movement
Mindful movement is a practice that involves combining physical activity with a focus on present-moment awareness and conscious attention to the body’s sensations, movements, and breath. It emphasizes being fully engaged in the present and cultivating a sense of mindfulness during movement. This approach not only enhances the physical benefits of exercise but also promotes mental clarity, stress reduction, and overall well-being. Here are some benefits and suggestions for incorporating mindful movement into your routine:
The Benefits of Mindful Movement:
- Increased Body Awareness: Mindful movement encourages you to pay close attention to your body’s movements, alignment, and sensations. This heightened awareness can help improve posture, balance, and coordination.
- Stress Reduction: Engaging in mindful movement can reduce stress and anxiety by redirecting your focus away from worries and into the present moment. It promotes relaxation and allows you to connect with your body and breath, fostering a sense of calm and well-being.
- Improved Mind-Body Connection: By combining physical activity with mindfulness, you can cultivate a stronger mind-body connection. This can lead to improved coordination, body control, and a deeper understanding of how movement affects your overall well-being.
- Enhanced Concentration and Mental Clarity: Practicing mindful movement requires concentration and focused attention. Regular engagement in these activities can improve your ability to concentrate, boost mental clarity, and enhance cognitive function.
Try Incorporating Activities like Yoga or Tai Chi:
- Yoga combines gentle movements, stretching, and breathing exercises with mindfulness. It helps improve flexibility, strength, and balance while promoting relaxation and stress reduction. Yoga is suitable for people of various fitness levels, and there are numerous online resources, apps, and classes available for guidance.
- Tai Chi is a low-impact exercise involving slow, flowing movements, deep breathing, and focusing on balance and relaxation. It can enhance strength, flexibility, and overall body awareness. Many resources provide instructional videos and online classes to learn and practice Tai Chi at home.
Here are some resources for guided meditation or mindfulness exercises:
- Meditation Apps: There are various meditation apps like Headspace, Calm, and Insight Timer that offer guided meditations, mindfulness exercises, and breathing techniques to promote relaxation and mindfulness.
- Online Guided Meditations: Websites such as YouTube and mindfulness platforms provide a wide range of guided meditation sessions led by experienced teachers. These resources offer flexibility and accessibility for incorporating mindfulness into your daily routine.
By incorporating mindful movement practices like yoga or tai chi and integrating guided meditation or mindfulness exercises into your routine, you can experience the numerous benefits of this holistic approach to physical activity. Remember to start slowly, listen to your body, and find the activities that resonate with you the most.
Set Activity Goals and Track Progress
Setting activity goals and tracking your progress is a powerful strategy for maintaining motivation, measuring your achievements, and staying committed to an active lifestyle. Here are some key points to expand on the benefits and methods of setting activity goals and tracking your progress:
- Motivation and Accountability: Setting clear activity goals provides you with a sense of purpose and direction. Having specific targets to work towards can be highly motivating and help you stay committed to regular exercise. By tracking your progress, you hold yourself accountable and create a sense of responsibility towards achieving your goals.
- Measuring Progress: Tracking your activity allows you to objectively measure your progress over time. It helps you see how far you’ve come, identify areas for improvement, and celebrate milestones. Regularly assessing your progress can boost your confidence, fuel your determination, and inspire you to push yourself further.
- Adaptation and Planning: Tracking your activity enables you to identify patterns, strengths, and areas that require improvement. By understanding your progress, you can make informed decisions about adjusting your exercise routines, exploring new activities, or setting more challenging goals. It helps you plan your workouts effectively and ensures that you are continually progressing towards your desired outcomes – including how to stay active when you work from home.
- Variety and Versatility: Setting activity goals encourages you to explore a variety of exercises and activities. By diversifying your workouts, you can engage different muscle groups, prevent boredom, and enhance overall fitness. Tracking your progress allows you to experiment with different activities and evaluate their impact on your performance and well-being.
- Tools for Tracking: Numerous tools and methods are available to track your activity and progress. These include fitness apps, wearable devices like fitness trackers or smartwatches, workout journals, or even simple spreadsheets. Choose a tracking method that aligns with your preferences and goals, ensuring it is convenient and easy to use consistently. I personally use the Lose It App on my phone that not only tracks my food & calorie intake but my weight, measurements, and water intake, and it integrates with my smartwatch.
- SMART Goal Setting: Consider using the SMART framework when setting activity goals. Make your goals Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. For example, instead of setting a vague goal like “exercise more,” a SMART goal would be “complete 30 minutes of cardio exercise five days a week for the next three months.”
- Celebrate Milestones: Tracking your progress allows you to celebrate your achievements along the way. Celebrating milestones boosts your motivation, reinforces positive habits, and encourages further progress. Treat yourself to small rewards or find ways to acknowledge your hard work, such as sharing your successes with a supportive community or treating yourself to a new workout gear item.
Remember that goals should be personalized and reflect your individual preferences, abilities, and aspirations. Regularly reassess your goals, adjust them as needed, and focus on creating a sustainable and enjoyable exercise routine that aligns with your long-term well-being. With each milestone you achieve, you’ll be inspired to continue pursuing an active lifestyle and reap the countless benefits it brings.
To Stay Active When You Work From Home Is Crucial For Your Overall Wellbeing
In conclusion, setting activity goals and tracking your progress is a valuable practice that can greatly contribute to your overall fitness and well-being. By establishing clear objectives, measuring your achievements, and holding yourself accountable, you can maintain motivation, experience tangible results, and cultivate a sustainable and fulfilling active lifestyle.
The benefits of setting activity goals and tracking progress extend beyond the physical realm. They provide a sense of direction, purpose, and focus to your fitness journey. With defined targets in place, you can overcome challenges, push through plateaus, and continuously strive for improvement. Tracking your progress allows you to witness firsthand how far you’ve come, boosting your self-confidence and reinforcing your commitment to personal growth. You might not even have a goal to be fitter or lose weight – your goal might simply be to move your body more and to stay active when you work from home, and that’s okay.
Moreover, the process of goal setting and progress tracking empowers you to adapt and evolve. As you monitor your activity, you gain valuable insights into what works best for your body and identify areas where adjustments can be made. This flexibility enables you to explore a variety of exercises, discover new passions, and tailor your routines to suit your changing needs and interests.
Remember to embrace the SMART framework when setting goals, ensuring they are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. This approach helps you set realistic expectations, maintain focus, and stay on track. Celebrate each milestone you achieve, recognizing the progress you’ve made along the way. Whether it’s completing a challenging workout, reaching a certain number of steps, or improving your endurance, take the time to acknowledge your accomplishments and reward yourself accordingly.
Lastly, keep in mind that the journey towards an active lifestyle is unique to each individual. Listen to your body, honour your limitations, and find joy in the process. Incorporate activities that you genuinely enjoy, surround yourself with supportive communities or workout buddies, and be open to exploring new avenues of movement and exercise.
By setting activity goals and tracking your progress, you embark on a transformative journey of self-discovery, growth, and holistic well-being. Embrace this practice as a tool to empower yourself, build resilience, and unlock your full potential. Remember, you have the power to create positive change in your life through consistent effort, determination, and a commitment to your health and happiness. Here’s to a future filled with vitality, achievement, and a lifelong pursuit of wellness.