Sean Coxon, fitness enthusiast & Kilimanjaro Summiteer, advises on how we can stay active when working from home...
There’s a myth flying around that working from home is more detrimental to your physical health because we are sitting around at our desks all day. Sure enough, some are sitting more than they used to but in reality, and certainly, in my case, I sit for just as much time now as I did when I was in the office.
The main difference I find with working from home is that I’ve got all this spare time where my morning commute used to be. This eliminates my “I don’t have time to exercise” excuse.
So, let’s flip this on the head and have a look at how working from home is the opportunity you have always needed to be able to get more active, move around more, and possibly even get fitter.
Tip #1 - Don’t do exercise – bet you weren’t expecting that!
Ok that might be a little misleading, but I am talking about non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT), you’re familiar with that right?
NEAT is the energy we expend for everything we do that is not sleeping, eating or sports-like exercise. It ranges from the energy expended walking to work, typing, gardening, or…wait for it…fidgeting.
Who knew that fidgeting around at your desk or throughout the day will help you stay fit, as well as keeping your muscles, tendons, ligaments, and joints moving.
We were never designed to sit still for prolonged periods of time so any kind of fidgety behaviour will help. You’re probably wondering, what constitutes fidgety behaviour? Here is a list for starters:
- Rapidly tapping your feet on the ground for 30 seconds
- Stand up and walk around the room if you are on the phone
- Get a tennis ball or football and roll it around under your feet
- Clench your butt cheeks together for 10 reps
- Wave at the postperson or even the neighbours as they wander past staring into your window. If you really want to make an impact, wave with both arms. Don’t worry about what you look like
- Lunges for lunches – lunge to the kitchen to make your lunch. Probably don’t lunge back carrying a bowl of soup though…
- The classic, 10,000 steps per day
The more you move throughout the day, the more your body will thank you for it.
Tip #2 - Start the day right
Now I am not suggesting that you jump out of bed and run 10k for breakfast (unless you want to of course) but morning exercise is a winner when it comes to staying fit, losing weight, getting healthier, and is a brilliant way of improving your mobility.
The truth is that you have more time in the mornings than you ever used to. A morning routine of some form of exercise will set you up for the day. You’ll feel like you’ve accomplished something which is great for your mental health, your body will be physically warmed up and mobile, plus there is also another hidden benefit to morning exercise… you don’t even have to work really hard. A 30-minute brisk walk is enough to raise your heart rate enough to get your metabolism going for the day.
Tip #3 - Mobility is key
Mobility is often overlooked, some of you will be familiar with classes like yoga and Pilates, which are great ways to stay supple but they are quite technical and require practice. YouTube is a great resource for finding ‘follow along’ videos to help you stay mobile. You also have the added bonus of not getting too sweaty and hot, so you can do it in your lunch break.
Any kind of mobility routine will help you stay supple. Don’t confuse mobility with fitness though, even some of the fittest people struggle with mobility issues and this often leads to injury. I regularly see people who are fantastic runners but they never work on their core strength and mobility. The focus is always on running but ask them to squat or lunge and it's like watching a baby giraffe trying to drink from a puddle.
Take time every day to do some kind of mobility routine whether it’s Pilates, yoga or something else, like these two excellent mobility videos:
There is no rocket science behind staying active, you just have to do it.
- Prioritise your health and even diarise it if you have to but take responsibility for yourself.
- Start slowly - don’t throw on your old trainers and try running 5k as fast as you can. You’ll hate it, you’ll probably injure yourself and you’ll never do it again.
- Be consistent - aim to do 20-30 minutes of whatever exercise you want per day.
Have fun - find something you like doing, find a friend to help keep you both accountable, join a class or community of people who have the same goals as you. Make it fun!
These are all important things to remember for EVERYBODY, regardless of your fitness or ability level, and let’s be honest, this also applies if you are not working from home. You can implement most of this in the office too.
By making physical activity part of your work routine, you won’t feel like you are chained to your desk all day and I am certain you will even start to see improved performance at work.
Remember that simple doesn’t always translate to easy. Implementing simple healthy habits is hard, to begin with, because life often gets in the way.
Finally, make sure you are taking responsibility and not sacrificing your health and fitness for convenience.
“Success is the product of daily habits, not once-in-a-lifetime transformations”