More and more of us are working from home. 1.5 million of us, in fact, with a 74% rise between 2008 and 2018. Now, with restrictions on movement due to coronavirus, far more of us might be swapping the office desk for the kitchen table, at least for a little while. But do you know how to stay active when working from home?
Working from home suits many of us brilliantly. No frustrating commute, all-you-can-drink coffee and a total peace and quiet. The downside? You might end up spending the whole day stuck under a laptop in your pyjamas without ever getting up (except of course, for those coffees).
In an office, even if you don’t hit the gym in your break, you probably go for a lunchtime wander, head over to see colleagues in other teams or at least have a bit of a longer walk to the kitchen than you do at home.
Not moving all day doesn’t do your body any favours, as we’re just not designed to sit still for hours. If you’re in the work zone and getting loads done at your desk, it’s often hard to drag yourself away. But remember this: our hunter-gatherer ancestors would have been constantly moving. Human bodies really haven’t changed much in millions of years, and so lack of movement and fresh air can mean our bodies start to struggle. Too much desk time often leads to stiffness, niggles and sluggishness.
Here’s what you can do to stay feeling fit while working from home
Research shows that people who sit for long periods often complain of muscle tightness and stiffness, discomfort and pain. It’s particularly common in the upper back, shoulders and neck, and is caused by lack of blood flow to the muscles from being in the same position for hours.
Simply changing your posture and taking breaks can make a huge difference. Think about how you sit while you work. If you’re hunched over a desk with rounded shoulders and your head leaning forwards, it’s pretty likely that you’ll end up with upper body soreness.
- Going for a walk at lunchtime to get the blood moving through your body again. Even if you’re really busy, take 10 minutes. That’s enough to make a real difference and will clear your mind as well as your body, making you far more productive.
- Only use your phone or tablet when you need it. Most people hunch over more on the phone than on a computer.
- Drink water regularly. Muscle soreness can be made worse by dehydration.
- Taking short breaks to exercise.
Even if you’re not usually a gym-goer, there are some simple exercises you can do without leaving the house.
At-home exercises that fit your working day
Try and fit a few of these into your day, either at lunchtime or mid-morning and afternoon. Just five minutes’ exercise can mean you avoid a lot of pain and stiffness.
- Put a chair behind you and take a very wide step to the side.
- Push your hips back behind you, as you try and sit down into the chair.
- Counterbalance this by leaning your chest forwards, keeping your back straight.
- Stand up, ensuring your knees travel forwards over your toes.
- Start in a balanced stance with your feet shoulder width apart and then raise yourself up on your toes as high as possible.
- Return back to the starting position.
- Progress to single leg to increase difficulty
- Lie on your back.
- Bend both knees and place your feet flat on the bed.
- Lift your back and glutes up from the bed and back down again
- Repeat this exercise and remember to continue to breathe properly.
- Progress to single leg to increase difficulty.
- Stand with your feet in a staggered stance. Shorten your stride to make the exercise easier.
- Initiate the movement by flexing at the hips, knees and ankles until your front thigh is parallel to the ground.
- Your back must remain straight and upright throughout the movement with the head up and your gaze forward.
- Keep your knee inline with your toe and do not allow your heel to rise off the ground.
- Stand by pushing through your hip and returning to standing position.
- Lean against a wall, with your feet away from the wall and shoulder width apart.
- Your back should remain in contact with the wall throughout.
- Slide down the wall, aiming to reach horizontal with your thighs.
- Your knees should be at 90 degrees at this point.
- Push yourself back up the wall, driving the movement with your glute muscles.
- Stand up straight facing a wall.
- Place your hands onto the wall around shoulder height but slightly wider.
- Maintain a straight line from the top of your head to your heels.
- Drive the heels of your hands into the wall, flattening your shoulder blades against your back.
- Your neck should remain long so ensure you do not hunch your shoulders up.
- Next, bend your elbows out to the side, pivoting on the balls of your feet as you move your body in one straight line in towards the wall
- Straighten your arms out again, lifting your body away from the wall.
- The closer to horizontal that you get the harder the movement becomes.
- Lie on your back and bring your legs up to table-top position with your hips and knees at 90 degrees.
- Keeping your back flat, lower one leg away from one another towards the floor.
- Do not allow anything else to move and make sure your back stays flat on the floor.
- Return to the start position and repeat with the other pair.
And if you want to do even more we will be sharing more exercise recommendations on our Youtube and other social media platforms over the coming weeks.
What about rehab and training?
Whether you’ve been working with a physio on injury rehab, or you’ve got a sports goal you’re training for, don’t let working from home disrupt your progress. If you can’t get to your usual gym, talk to your physio about exercises you can do at home or in the park.
If you can’t get to your usual Bodyset clinic, see if there’s one near your home. We are also be offering online video consultations for people who would prefer to remain at home, you can find out more here.