Over the past several months, many Americans have made the conversion to working remotely. What’s nice about working from home is not having to dress in business attire and spend time in traffic driving to and from an office. But working from home does have its downsides. One of them is not getting as much physical activity as you did as a commuter. Working from home often entails sitting in front of a computer for hours at a time.
Members of the remote workforce need to take time out of their workday to put their bodies in motion, especially if they’re performing mostly sedentary work. Gyms and parks may be closed in your area. And those exercise facilities and venues that are open may require masks and social distancing, which some people would like to avoid. So, how can you stay fit and energized in a home-based environment?
A good place to start is to find ways to incorporate exercise into your daily routine, especially if you're spending most of your work hours in a confined area and not moving around much. Solo workouts are convenient, and they can be very effective. You can tone muscle and break a sweat from the privacy of your home without having to rely on anyone else. You need little or no time to prepare and you can often exercise at the spur of the moment. Plus, if you’re concerned about the health risks of being around other people, working out at home certainly limits that risk.
Next, you should probably consider how you want to break up the workday to allow for your workouts. Decide what kinds of exercises would benefit you and when in your workday would be a good time to fit them in. What follows are workouts suggestions you can do from your desk, on the floor, around the house, and the neighborhood.
Always consult your health care professional before starting an exercise program. Also, be sure to adjust your movements and the duration of the exercises to what your body can do.
Exercising from Your Desk
Counteract hours of sitting with stretching exercises you can do right in front of your desk during mini breaks. Here are a few 10-minute exercises you can do seated and standing:
Shoulder/neck warmup. Rotate your shoulders down and back. Move your head side-to-side.
Quad stretch. Put one arm out or hold onto something stable. Take the other hand and reach back and grab the foot. Switch sides.
Hamstring stretch. With feet together, bend forward, head between arms, holding onto the front edge of your desk.
Side stretch. Put your arms up, hands over your head, and gently lean to the left and then to the right.
Seated leg stretches. Sit in a chair, cross one leg over the other above the knee, bend forward, then switch using your other leg.
Seated cat-cow stretch. These stretches open the chest and back. Sit upright with your hands on your knees, look up and arch your back. Then round your spine while dropping your head forward, like a cat stretching.
Toe-touch. From a standing position, reach down and touch your toes (or as far as it goes). Then cross your legs at the ankles and touch your toes to increase the power of the stretch. This is for lower back relief.
Shoulder roll. Move your shoulders up, forward, down, and back in one direction and then the opposite direction.
Neck stretch. There’s nothing like a good neck stretch to work out the kinks after staring at your monitor for long periods. Place one hand on the side of your head and gently pull in the direction of your hand; then switch hands to the other side of your head and repeat.
Strength building. Reverse lunges (step back, sink down, then straighten back up) strengthen the quads and butt. An incline pushup (stand a couple of feet away from your desk, keep your body straight and lean in for pushups) strengthens the chest, arms, and abs. Squats build muscle and strength in the quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves. (Keep your arms out and squat up and down, keep the weight on your heels, push hips back while lowering your butt.) To focus on the triceps, try triceps dips. (With your back facing your desk, grab the edge of the desk, and bend your arms and dip up and down.)
You can see some of these exercises in action here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Dp2rL397jA
Stay active even while you’re sitting. Having the right equipment is key. Research how to make the best investment in desks and chairs by exploring what works best for stability, comfort, design, and budget.
Make the most out of your work hours with active sitting:
Outfit yourself with a standing desk chair or stool.
Changing positions frequently is a good way to stay active at your desk and avoid stiffness and soreness from sitting in one place.
A leaning stool or chair takes the pressure off your knees, feet, and spine. It also reduces your time spent in a chair. Some leaning stools are combined with a mat to make leaning more comfortable
A standing desk or high work surface is often paired with a sit-to-stand chair.
Use stability and yoga balls to keep your circulation flowing. Some are designed specifically for office desk use and come in all kinds of sizes, materials, and colors. They pair well with a standing desk for when you need a break from standing but still want to be active. You could switch off from a chair to a ball or replace your chair entirely with a ball. Make sure to keep your height properly aligned to your computer screen or desk. Another option is to use a smaller stability ball in conjunction with your regular chair: Move the ball around the floor in front of your chair with your feet while seated; throw in some more active moves by picking the ball up with your feet and legs.
Can you actually burn calories sitting and standing? Yes! A 170-pound person burns about 140 calories in an hour sitting but standing, they can burn 186 calories. Those calories can add up by the end of the day, week, and month.
Active Home Workouts
Walking, jogging, biking. Want some basic heart-pumping action? A good cardio workout can take place outdoors or indoors. Run or jog around the block or through the neighborhood, enjoying a change of scene. Or, for indoor cardio, an exercise bike will do the job of raising your heartbeat to whatever level feels right.
Workout Videos. A good way to get into a fitness routine is with workout videos. They can be fun and motivating. Have a one-on-one experience with your personal virtual fitness trainer. For those who like to exercise as part of a group, class videos can simulate that experience too. Or bring the outdoors indoors with cycling on a stationary bike outfitted with virtual scenery.
Don’t have any exercise equipment? You don’t need them for many exercises. Here’s a 20-minute full-body workout that requires no equipment, no music, and hardly any space: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CYD7f5b_qj4
Choreographed workouts. Want more ways to get a full workout without equipment? How about shaking up your cardio workout with a dance routine: hip hop, Zumba, step aerobics, kick-boxing, or exotic belly dancing? There are loads of options with dance moves that can give you a combo of high and low cardio with energizing background beats. Specialized workout videos are all over the internet: subscription-based and free workouts on websites and sites like YouTube and as DVDs.
Yoga ball. A yoga ball can exercise your body from any angle. Stretch, lift, twist, rotate, lunge, and squat. Here’s a helpful video: https://www.shape.com/fitness/workouts/strength/exercise-ball-workout-exercisesMind-Body. Yoga isn’t the only name of the game for exercises that tune your body, mind, and spirit. Try Pilates, Tai Chi, and Qigong for an energizing, spiritual workout.
As always, stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Add a boost of clean energy with a bottle of your favorite flavor of Tejava.