Working from home is a hot topic these days. No doubt, you may be one of the many people who suddenly and unexpectedly found themselves staying home to work.
Which explains the onslaught of work-from-home memes over the past couple of months.
(For example, check out this hilarious selection.)
Joking aside, there is a notably common theme; working from home sounds like a dream on paper, but the reality is often a lot different from the expectation.
Although organizations and businesses have been slowly embracing remote work in recent years, these unprecedented times have catapulted the work-from-home movement to mainstream status.
And you know something? It’s a pretty big adjustment.
I started working from home full-time last summer and I’d like to think I’m a little ahead on this learning curve.
For me, working from home successfully really boils down to two things:
- Staying physically active to stay healthy and keep the pounds off
- Staying focused to facilitate productivity
I find that if you prioritize physical activity and your health, it automatically improves your ability to do your job well.
To put your health first, you need to put measures in place to ensure that you’re not sitting at a desk for hours on end without any movement.
To that end, here is how to stay active when working from home – and how it supercharges your productivity in the process.
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1. Take advantage of the extra time surrounding your workday
The reality is, if you’ve been spending time commuting to work every day, you have no excuse not to turn that into exercise time once you start working from home.
And you have multiple times to choose from:
Instead of sleeping in now that you work from home, keep your schedule and use that time to get in a sweat sesh.
If you really could use the extra sleep, try a compromise. For example, if working from home saves you 40 minutes of commute time, then sleep in 20 minutes later than you normally do and use the other 20 minutes for some quick exercise.
You don’t need to go crazy here. If morning workouts aren’t your thing, there’s nothing wrong with keeping it short and simple. Even some stretching, a quick yoga session, or a brisk walk around the block with your dog is time well spent.
You get to start your day already feeling accomplished, energized, and ready to crush the tasks of the day.
Whether you take 30 minutes or an hour, your lunch break is the perfect time to add some movement into your day. I usually take 15-20 minutes to walk to my mailbox and back, which leaves enough time to whip up a sandwich before heading back to my desk.
That short jaunt can burn an extra 70-100 active calories, which doesn’t sound like much but adds up, especially if you combine that with a short daily workout.
Like the mornings, afternoons now become a source of newfound time when you work from home. No more long commutes home in rush hour traffic!
During the week, afternoons around 4:30 pm are when I get my main-event workout in during the week. I like it because I don’t have to rush my workout or cooldown because work for the day is done.
Right now I’m doing a Jillian Michaels program via her app, and I’m finding it the perfect way to end the day on a strong, high note! (If you don’t have this app yet, check out my full review on the app – spoiler alert, it’s BOSS!)
Now, afternoon workouts can be tricky because there’s greater temptation to skip if you’ve had a stressful workday or still feeling that mid-afternoon fatigue.
I find the key to making it work is viewing it as a way to de-stress after a tough workday, reminding myself that I always feel better after I move!
And to fend off that afternoon energy slump beforehand, I eat a light snack around 3:30.
2. Be mindful of how much time you spend sitting during your workday
One of the most challenging aspects of learning how to stay active when working from home is staying cognizant of how long you’ve been sitting sedentary.
I find that once you get into the zone, it’s SO easy to get caught up in your work for hours without so much as standing up from your desk.
Wearable activity trackers are a godsend for combatting this.
Most modern trackers will give you a gentle zap on the wrist if it senses you’ve been sitting on your duff for too long. My watch is set so that it gives me a gentle budget at 10 minutes to the hour, every hour.
They also give you “standing” or “move” goals to strive for, which can help motivate you to move.
I have two favorites when it comes to wearable activity trackers:
I will always have a soft spot for FitBit because it was one of their trackers that kickstarted my fitness journey back in 2017.
In my experience, it’s one of the most accurate brands on the market and keeps up with the top tier competition at a much lower price. The battery life is also really impressive, lasting up to 5 or 6 days without needing a charge.
There is also a wide variety of models to choose from for just about every budget. The Versa 2 in particular is both well-rounded in features and relatively affordable.
No doubt, this is the pricier option. But if you’re an Apple user, you will love the Apple watch over the FitBit because it syncs seamlessly with your other devices.
It’s also a little sleeker looking than the FitBit. I’ve been using the Series 3 watch since December 2018 and I never take it off except to charge it!
Getting up every hour to stretch your legs is just as important for your productivity as it is for your health; breaks help mitigate decision fatigue, improve creativity, and enable you to stay focused for longer periods of time.
3. Try mini-workouts during your breaks
You’re entitled to short breaks during your workday so make sure you take them!
How short bursts of physical activity can help fend off that dreaded afternoon energy slump that tends to set in around 2 pm, and help to keep you focused so that you can end the workday strong.
So when you take 10 to pour yourself another cup of coffee or grab a granola bar, why not get a mini workout in too?
It’s not like you have to worry about your coworkers watching or judging whenever you decide to bust out a few random squats or planks, right?
High-intensity exercises are what is going to give you the biggest bang for your buck here. You can try a short circuit workout or even just grab a jump rope and skip it out for five minutes.
I wrote this whole post about mini workouts if you need more ideas or are curious as to how effective mini workouts really are. (Coles notes? If done right, they’re pretty darn effective!)
4. Stand while you work (in moderation)
You can burn up to 200 calories an hour just from standing. That’s an extra 70-140 calories more per hour then if you spent that time sitting.
Again, it may seem like small potatoes but it adds up! Say you spend a total of 2 hours a day standing at your desk, Monday through Friday. That’s up to 1400 calories a week or 5600 per month, which is over a pound’s worth of calories.
Just from standing.
But, standing desks can be really flipping expensive. Fortunately, this smaller desk converting version does the trick by lifting your monitor and keyboard without breaking the bank.
Even if you forego the standing desk option, that doesn’t mean you can’t stand while working now and then. You can totally stand during a conference call, for example.
Every little bit helps!
Don’t get crazy with the standing thing though – research has found that prolonged standing can actually be harmful for your health. Like so many things, moderation is key!
5. Try an Under Desk Bike or Elliptical
These little units fit under your desk so you can pedal while you work. This idea of “active sitting” means you can burn extra calories – around a hundred more per hour!
I got one of these ellipticals recently and although it takes a little getting used to, it is now something I use every day and has been a game-changer in keeping my calorie burn high, especially on days I don’t have time to get a proper workout in.
I wouldn’t use this to replace your walking breaks or other workouts, but it’s a fantastic addition to your regime! (Need help choosing a unit? Check out my roundup post where I hone in and compare the best ones.)
Working from home could actually be a disguised opportunity to get into great shape! Not only that, but physical activity and productivity also go hand-in-hand.
In addition to improving your focus, you’ll likely have more energy and a better outlook on life when you make time for a little exercise throughout the day.
And honestly, a little positivity and feeling of accomplishment can go a long way in times like these!
Do you have any questions about how to stay active when working from home? Do you have your own strategy that works best for you? Share in the comments!