Staying active was hard enough before the global pandemic completely changed our way of life. Now, it can feel downright impossible. You’re home all day, Zooming away on calls and meetings in the unwashed comfort of your baggiest sweats. Your kids are home all day too. They’re also on Zoom, calling out “GOOD MORNING MS. JONES” in their morning classroom meeting because it’s hard for young kids to understand that they don’t have to yell into the Chromebook to be heard.
How are you going to find the time to sneak away to get some active minutes logged on your fitness tracker? Although it’s a huge challenge to stay active while working from home, we have some simple and easy ways to help you get yourself moving – pajamas optional.
SCHEDULE ACTIVE TIME
In your old life, you may have hit the gym on the way to work or on the way back home. It was a dedicated block of time that existed just for you. So why change that routine? You may not be commuting anymore, but there’s no reason you should replace your workout time with something less kinetic. Set a timer, get away from the screen and get moving.
This is as important for your mental health as it is for your physical health. Have you ever woke up in bed, immediately grabbed your phone or your laptop, checked your email, made a call or two, hustled off to the kitchen for a bowl of fruit and a cup of coffee, and jumped right back into bed to keep working? You’ve just blended all the aspects of your day that were previously separated by important transition periods. This will make it harder for you to separate the parts of your day that are meant to be screenless – like your dedicated workout time.
Plus, if you can hold yourself accountable to keep your workout time separate from everything else, it’ll be a part of the day you look forward to – and depending on your level of isolation, it may be the only part of the day you look forward to.
EAT ACTIVE FOODS
Remember how easy it was to swing by your favorite coffee-and-baked-goods establishment for your morning calories? Maybe you still do, but most Americans have altered their food habits as a result of the pandemic. If you were someone who regularly relied on sugar-heavy foods to get you through the morning, consider making choices that are less calorically dense. For example, replace the blueberry muffin with a piece of avocado toast, or skip the creamy latte and opt to make your own basic drip coffee at home.
Depending on where you live (and depending on the health of the supply chain in your area), it may become difficult to find the foods you should be eating, and even if you can find them, they may be more expensive than before. If you can, choose to keep a pantry full of proteins and produce, and carbs as your diet allows. And remember: if you get that gallon of ice cream, you’ll eat that gallon of ice cream.
MAKE ACTIVE CALLS
Your work-from-home setup is naturally unique to you. Because your home doesn’t have the same rules and requirements that the office does, you have more freedom to dress how you choose. And nobody will judge you for the crumbs that adorn your fuzzy blanket. This is extra true if you used to work in an open-concept or shared workspace. But those rules don’t apply anymore!
Whether you have a treadmill or prefer walking outside, schedule your meetings and phone calls while you get some steps in. It’s not only good for your physical health, but walking can help boost your memory and cognitive function. You don’t need to put miles on your feet during your daily team check-in, but getting up and getting your blood flowing will do wonders for your mood, your energy, and your Zoom background.
If taking a walking meeting isn’t appealing to you, consider switching to a standing desk. Most of us end up using our laptops on the couch, or in bed, or even at the kitchen table, but all of these options promote terrible posture and neck soreness. The benefits of a standing desk are well studied, and some designs take up much less space than traditional office desks.
TAKE ACTIVE BREAKS
With most of the country still working from home, the concept of working a 9-5 job is definitely evolving. While many professions transition to task-based days instead of paying employees for empty hours sitting in the office, you may find yourself with some down time during your workday. Instead of scrolling the socials or letting your tv-binge tendencies take over, get in a few reps with some simple at-home exercises.
Yoga is a low-barrier way to keep your mind rested and body active during the day. There are endless YouTube yogis eager to show you the best poses to reduce lower back pain (see – that standing desk would be helpful after all).
How many pushups can you do in a day? How many sit ups? Squats? Set yourself a goal, and do small sets at a time between work obligations. For example, if you think you can do 200 pushups from the time you start work to the time you end, do 10 each time you get off the phone or finish an email.
If you’re on a tight budget but you’ve got DIY skills, there are many easy ways to create your own micro-gym that you can keep organized and tidy beneath your brand new standing desk. From sand-filled PVC pipes to concrete-basketball kettlebells, you can quickly make your active breaks more interesting and more challenging.
The day will come when you can rejoin your coworkers in the office. But for now, staying active during your work-from-home days will help keep your body, your mind, and your mood in shape.