Staying active and sneaking in some movement during the day shouldn’t be a challenge, but it can be—even when you’re working from home.
While not having to head into the office every day has offered many people greater flexibility, leveraging this flexibility to take care of yourself comes with a learning curve. By taking a few small steps to enhance your wellbeing, however, you can increase your productivity in the work-from-home (or, WFH) environment for the long haul.
Below, Elaine Moen, health coach, Ayurvedic practitioner, and Arootah’s Director of Wellness shares her favorite WFH exercise hacks.
Why Is it Important to Stay Active While Working?
While a lot more people are working within the comfort of their homes—in both remote and hybrid positions—WFH does have its downsides.
For example, if you aren’t commuting to and from work, walking between meetings, or getting space from your workstation during your lunch break, you may find that you are less physically active in a WFH environment.
That’s not the only downside: A lack of physical activity, especially over time, can do a number on your body.
In fact, people who work a desk job are more than 2x as likely to suffer from a fall than non-office workers are.
Whether you’re working at home or in an office, it’s up to you to stay active during your workday. If this seems like a big undertaking, try to think of it as an opportunity to cultivate some creativity in your day. As long as you’re staying active, you’ll be taking steps towards a healthier lifestyle.
5 Exercise Hacks to Try During your Workday
1. Do some Stretching
Stretching is a great health habit for all of us, but for those who stay sedentary most of the day, it’s especially beneficial. Working at a desk can result in multiple injuries, such as carpal tunnel, neck problems, spinal stress, or lower back pain. You can help prevent many of these injuries by stretching regularly.
Look up some stretches specifically for those who have desk-related jobs and work them into your routine—schedule them once or twice a day to prevent injuries.
When you’re working from home, it can be easy to spend the whole day without a break or become distracted and never get your stretches in. If you find this to be true for you, try keeping a chat with your colleagues or team going, so you can all remind each other to stretch throughout the day.
2. Get up Every Hour
If you’re trying to squeeze some stretches in, be sure to get up and away from your desk. Grab some water, play with your pet, or whip up a nutritious snack during this time. You can set a reminder on your phone or calendar to keep you accountable.
Especially if you’re staring at a screen all day, it’s a good idea to give your eyes some time to rest. Look out the window and try to focus on something at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds to reset your eyes.
You can also consider investing in a standing desk, says Moen.
3. Take 20 to 30-Minute Walks
Taking a walk before, during, or after the workday is a great way to stay physically active, suggests Moen. Some people may even enjoy walking before work as a way to tell their brain it’s time to “commute” and switch into work mode.
Going for a walk during your lunch break and spending time in nature can also help you feel more relaxed, focused, and ready to tackle the challenges of the workday when you do return to your desk.
4. Schedule a 20 to 30-Minute Yoga or Free Weight Session
Another one of Moen’s tips: If you’re already taking breaks during the day, why not squeeze in a small workout? By rolling out the yoga mat or doing a few strength-training exercises, you can mix up your day, while staying strong and limber. (We’ve got a few brief yoga and weighted workouts on our YouTube channel. Check them out here.)
These breaks of physical activity can be especially effective if you use them to reward yourself for completing tasks. Your body and brain will appreciate the positive reinforcement and be inspired to keep going and stay focused.
5. Create a Challenge for Yourself
Since rewarding your brain and pursuing goals are intrinsically linked, you can also fit some activity into your day by creating a fun fitness challenge for yourself.
Moen suggests, for example, challenging yourself to set a goal—such as 20 squats and 20 push-ups—for every hour you’re sitting at your desk. You could also try a new yoga pose every week to see if you can master it before you close your laptop on Friday.
Why not throw some friendly competition into the mix? Ask your team to engage in a challenge with you and use digital trackers to monitor everyone’s progress.
The Bottom Line
Staying active during the workday can be challenging, but a few simple exercise hacks can boost your work-life balance.
As with any habit, staying active in a WFH environment needs to be built into your routine. After doing it long enough, you’ll get to a point where fitting movement into moments throughout the day becomes something you don’t even need to think about. And your body will be better equipped to handle desk work when you are being sedentary.
We get it—creating effective habits that last isn’t always easy. Sometimes you need extra support. If you’re looking for guidance on creating healthy habits, speak to one of our Arootah Coaches.
How do you stay active when working from home? Share your tips in the comments!