For many people, including myself, staying fit while working from home has become more difficult. After all, so many “little things” that kept us moving aren’t necessary anymore, like walking from the parking lot to the office, climbing up and down the stairs, fiddling with the crappy printer, and all these other activities that collectively consume calories.
But, coming from someone who’s made the shift from physical to virtual office many years ago, trust me when I say that it’s not impossible. Challenging, yes, but definitely doable.
Below are some tips that I, as a physical therapist, trainer, and telecommuter personally use to keep myself fit and active while working from home. Give them a try!
1. Create a dedicated workspace
Set up a spot in your home that’s separate from everything else that makes you want to relax.
I found that setting up my home office inside my bedroom with the idea of waking up, getting up, and working was largely ineffective because I just spent most of my time in bed.
This dragged my work hours all the way into the wee hours of the night which took away time for cooking, exercise, and sleep. Ultimately, they all contributed to my weight gain.
When I moved my office to the basement is when I finally got better control of my working hours which, in turn, gave me more time to stay fit.
2. Set regular working hours
One of the benefits of working from home is that you have more control over your schedule. However, this can also be a downside if you don’t have enough self-discipline.
Setting regular hours for work – and sticking to them – is crucial if you want to live a balanced life while enjoying your time at home. This will help keep you on track and make it easier to find time for both exercise and leisure.
3. Take advantage of technology
There are literally hundreds, if not thousands of apps and online programs that you can use to help you take better care of your physical health. And, the best part? Almost all of them can be used while you’re working from home.
For one, there are fitness apps that allow you to follow along with workout videos. You can even do a simple search online for at-home exercises and find thousands of results, like these great exercises from KneeForce that work if you have knee pain.
There are also calorie trackers that measure the nutrients (or lack thereof) that you’re consuming. And, if your team is up for it, you can use your work’s video conferences to schedule active meetings to improve morale.
4. Invest in exercise clothes
Many people think that because they’re only exercising at home, they can wear anything they want. There’s definitely truth to that but, on the other hand, how you dress could also influence your mindset.
A study from Social Psychological and Personality Science shows that dressing formally also made people think more cognitively. Following that logic, putting on your workout gear when it’s time to exercise might just put you in the mindset of an athlete and net you huge benefits.
5. Stock up on healthy snacks
Staying fit is more about what you eat than what exercises you do. And, if you’re a remote worker, reaching for unhealthy snacks becomes so easy that it makes maintaining a fit and healthy body more challenging.
What worked for me is that I simply made fruits and other healthier snacking alternatives more accessible to me than junk food.
Don’t get me wrong. I still grab a bag of chips every now and again. But there’s always apples, bananas, and hard-boiled eggs nearby in case I need a jolt of sugar and protein while I’m working.
6. Make breakfast a part of your routine
For many of us working from home, breakfast can be any time we want it to – and I think that can be good or bad. It’s good if you can deliver whatever your work requires of you regardless of the time you start. But, as for me and I believe many of you here, it led to procrastination.
That being said, I found that making breakfast part of my daily routine also made me better aware of my time. This, in turn, made me more accountable in both my work and physical fitness.
7. Avoid sitting for long periods of time
Working remotely isn’t much different than working in the office in terms of how we’re mostly sitting in front of your computers for hours on end. This sedentary lifestyle can be counterproductive to your physical health as it establishes both weakness and tightness in your muscles.
Remember to take short breaks to stand up and move around every hour or so. Doing this helps with blood circulation while also minimizing stiffness. You could even do a set of push ups and light stretching to get your heart pumping.
Alternatively, you could also use a standing desk.
8. Enjoy the outdoors when you can
Working from home doesn’t mean we’re prisoners of our own walls. Remember that we can just as easily take our keys and walk out the door whenever we feel like.
So, when the weather is nice and it fits your schedule, go outside and take a walk, run, or bike ride. Getting some fresh air can do wonders for your energy, mood, and mental health. Plus, it’s a great way to fit in some good exercise.
9. Schedule physical activity into your day
Speaking of schedules, one way to make sure you stay active is to actually add physical activity to your to-do list, just like you would any other appointment.
Whether it’s a daily walk around the block or a trip to the gym, a regular exercise routine will help make it a priority for remote workers like you and me.
10. Invest in fitness equipment
Fitness and gym equipment are notoriously expensive but, really, you can spend as much or as little as you’re willing to.
If you’re on a budget, a resistance band, skipping rope, and a yoga mat can do wonders for your strength, cardio, and flexibility. You can even do calisthenics with a doorway pull up bar. If you have a larger budget and multi-machines and free weights are within your reach, go for it!
Regardless, setting yourself up for being capable of indoor exercises is a way to make staying fit while doing remote work more feasible.
Like many of you here who are struggling with staying active, I don’t do well with drastic changes. These tips worked beautifully for me because they were easy to implement into my daily routine, so I hope they work for you, too.
Regardless of what’s effective, though, remember that great physical fitness doesn’t matter so much if you’re bottling up stress and negativity. So, celebrate your small victories and don’t let working from home dull your spirits.