Our 5 tips to get your body moving while working from home
How has your change in commute impacted your physical activity?
After a few months working almost exclusively from home, I realise that I don’t feel as fit as I used to earlier this year. Yes, I move every day as I know it is important for my wellbeing: I go for walks, I do some stretching exercises… Do I move as regularly as I used to now I am working from home, though? Probably not. And what is the main difference now I am working from home? The commute to work stopped! While I used to commute to work every day, I now commute to… the spare room. From a drive and a long walk every day in the streets of Leeds, I now go to the other room. From a lunchbreak outside during which I would run some errands and get some food (usually from Leeds amazing Kirkgate market), I now just go to the kitchen and open the fridge. And that is without talking about the extra chocolate bars. No wonder I feel less fit!
And I can already feel the consequences in terms of physical wellbeing (back pain, muscle tensions, …) but also mental wellbeing (challenges to focus, lower productivity and motivation levels, …). Who would have guessed how important the commute to work was, even though draining? The commute to work, for some of us, was our buffer between our professional and personal lives, the opportunity for us to unwind and change hats. I used to call a friend or family member while walking back to my car in the streets of Leeds, or just listening to music or people watching. Do I do this now? Not at all! Most of us now work in a space where everything is mixed, and it does impact our mental and physical wellbeing.
So here are our 5 tips to keep your body moving while working from home, for the sake of your physical and mental wellbeing:
Commute to ‘work‘ as you used to do. How long did it take you to reach the office in the morning? What do you do with that time now? If you can, try to use that time to move around: go for a walk around the block or a run in the park, watch and follow a YouTube yoga or pilates class, attend a ‘Wake Up your Body’ session with the rest of the team… Find something that suits you, and get this body moving before and after the working day! Remember that walking from your desk to the fridge does not count for many steps anymore!
Suggest the good old phone call instead of another video meeting and go for a walk outside! If the weather is too dreadful or too windy, or the call too important to afford too much background noise, get up from your chair and pace your living room instead! Moving will help your brain to process thoughts and generate ideas. You would also be more focused on the phone conversation without being distracted by anything on your screen. And you will get a rest from seeing your own face on your screen – Am I the only one being tired of seeing my own face all the time?
Get up as soon as you get a chance: between virtual meetings, the temptation might be hard to just stay at your desk until the next one. Or take your phone out and browse social media in the meantime. Why not getting up instead? Think about what you can do in 5 minutes that would support your wellbeing. There are some great free 5 minutes workout videos that work wonders on YouTube, a good alternative to scrolling down social media, isn’t it? You will be surprised at how much you can do in just 5 minutes. Ab training in the middle of the day might not work in the office, yet it does while working from home! And if you are stuck with a problem you cannot solve, we would recommend a little walk between meetings too. Taking a walk can actually boost your creativity and problem solving, as this article from Psychology Today states.
Put your favourite tune on and dance like nobody is watching, because nobody is actually watching (!) as you are not in the office but working from home. You might as well make the most of it! The benefits of dance for wellbeing are varied: dancing reduces stress, boosts self confidence and brain power, and also enables team building, as this article from Leeds Dance Studio states.
Try some arms and legs movements while sitting on your chair. One series of movements that work well is the ‘You Want To Live’ one: Focus on the first letter of each word and do this letter with your arms: - Y = arms up in the air - W = arms bended on your sides - T = arms straight on your sides - L = arms bended on your sides with elbows touching your hips This short series of arms exercises is very helpful for back pain and muscle strains that can occur while sitting at a desk (or the kitchen table) for the whole day. If you are not confident doing them on your own, you might want to try some Chair Yoga sessions with your team as well! It is great fun and the opportunity to learn very useful exercises to practice on a daily basis.