Maintaining good physical, mental, and emotional health is essential for enjoying a good life. A lot of people are now working from home, which means lesser overall body movement and lower fitness levels. Sitting all day and almost no out and about movement has led to a more sedentary lifestyle. You, me, and everyone else has become a little lazier than we were before. We’ve either reduced the amount of exercise we used to do or have completely stopped it. We don’t even walk from our office desks to the office cafeteria anymore! This sedentary lifestyle doesn’t have to continue because there are some really good work from home exercises that you can seamlessly include in your daily schedule. After all, exercising is a part of taking care of yourself and you must prioritize it.
Before we talk about some easy-to-do work from home exercises, let’s understand how we can avoid our “sitting all day” ritual when working from home.
How to Counteract Sitting All Day During Work From Home?
Too much sitting isn’t just about the duration you sit for but also about your posture. The “how” and the “how long”, both account for the impact on your overall health. According to Dr. Tudor Marinescu, M.D. Ph.D., how we sit and how long we sit can cause structural and functional changes in our bodies.
“Ancestrally, our bodies are made to always be in motion–they are not meant to be static. Having been in this field for all these years I’ve met many masters who have been carrying the wisdom of their predecessors, and most everybody says one of the worst inventions for mankind is chairs.” – Dr. Tudor Marinescu
According to Dr. Tudor Marinescu, it is bad to sit for longer than 3 hours. The duration may vary from person to person as all bodies are different. However, sitting for long hours on chairs or couches is detrimental to one’s health.
What Happens When You Sit On a Chair for Too Long?
- Slouching when sitting affects the abdominal diaphragm which affects our breathing because our breathing depends on the sync between the abdominal diaphragm and the pelvic diaphragm.
- While sitting, our entire upper body weight falls on the belly. This locks our abdominal diaphragm leading to shallow breathing. This is called Thoracic breathing and is detrimental to our health.
- Thoracic breathing prevents the return of fresh oxygenated blood to the cells and further results in toxic build-up which can lead to illnesses.
Breathing properly is also important for your mental health which subsequently affects your physical health too. Former monk and popular purpose and life coach, Jay Shetty says in his book “Think Like a Monk”:
“When you get stressed – what changes? Your breath. When you get angry – what changes? Your breath. We experience every emotion with the change of the breath. When you learn to navigate and manage your breath, you can navigate any situation in life.”
- Sitting in front of a device like a computer or a laptop for a long time also leads to forward head posture. This is bad posture and can cause pressure on our spine resulting in neck spasms. If your neck region is painful after long hours of sitting while working from home, this is the cause.
Small Changes That Can Counteract Sitting All Day
- For every 45 min of sitting, you must take a break. You could just walk around your house, even if it is just to get yourself a bottle of water from the kitchen. You can stretch your body and give it some movement for ten minutes before resuming work again.
- You could also take a look outside your window. This will help you with some fresh air, too, along with resting your eye muscles.
- Having a remote work setup that includes both standing and sitting desks can be helpful. It is difficult to work on standing desks for the entire day but if you switch in between the two, you’ll steer clear of accumulating stagnation.
- Sitting on yoga balls is also a great option as it doesn’t have any backrest and allows your pelvic diaphragm to breathe.
- Small trampolines are another amazing option to go for. If you find yourself sitting all day while working from home, include ten minute trampoline breaks in between to move those body muscles before you get back to your work desk.
- While working, make sure that your eyes are looking at the screen in a straight horizontal alignment, your back is straight and you’re in a comfortable typing position with relaxed shoulders.
Exercises That Help You Stay Fit Even When Working From Home
While you might create the perfect work from home office setup to adapt to a better sitting posture, exercising is always the best solution. Why? .
- Exercising helps you maintain a healthy body weight.
- Exercises help you prevent many diseases like diabetes, heart conditions, anxiety disorders, depression, and many more.
- Exercises are mood boosters because physical activity stimulates brain chemicals that are responsible for relaxation and happiness.
- Exercising helps you get better sleep.
Let’s find out the best exercises you can include in your schedule that can help you maintain your overall health while working from home.
1. Set Up Reminders and Go For Easy Desk Stretches
With so many devices at our disposal, let’s make the most of them. Setting up reminders and alarms on your smartphones and smartwatches is easy. Set up reminders for after every 45-50 min while working from home so that you know that you’ve been sitting for a long time. When that alarm bell rings, it’s time for you to do desk stretches!
Here’s how you can do some easy desk stretches from your work from home desk.
- Tricep Stretches
- Raise your arm and bend it over your head. Your hand will reach the opposite side.
- Hold your elbow with your other hand and pull it towards your head..
- Stay in this position for about 10 to 30 seconds.
- Repeat the same for your other side.
- Overhead Reach
- Extend one arm over your head.
- Bend sideways and let your hand reach the opposite side.
- Hold this position for 10 to 30 seconds.
- Repeat for the other arm.
- Neck Stretch
- Relax your body and lean your head forward.
- Roll your neck slowly towards one side and hold this position for 10 seconds.
- Repeat the same for the other side.
- Relax and lift your chin up to the starting position.
- Repeat this three times for each direction.
- Shoulder Shrug
- Raise both shoulders up.
- Drop them.
- Repeat this 10-20 times.
Desk stretches are easy to do as they don’t take up a lot of time and are good to relax those tensed muscles. You don’t realise that your muscles are tense while you sit for long hours, but if you don’t take stretching breaks and get up from your chair after a long day of work, you’ll feel the aches and pains. These simple desk stretches from time to time while working from home can prevent muscle stiffness and promote healthy muscle health and posture.
2. Yoga For The Mind and Body
Yoga helps not only with the relaxation of your body but also of your mind. It helps keep you calm and is a great way to manage stress. While yoga studios might be shut in several places because of the pandemic, online yoga classes are becoming increasingly popular among work from home communities. Moreover, if you can work from home, you can very much practice yoga from home too.
Benefits of Yoga:
- Improves strength, flexibility, and balance.
- Benefits heart health.
- Helps you sleep better.
- Helps with stress management.
You only need a yoga mat and a little space to perform Yoga asanas. Joining an online Yoga class also helps you socialise and make friends as working from home can get lonely for some. You can choose the days and hours that suit your schedule the best.
Besides online yoga classes, there are several yoga apps that are helpful for those who don’t want to enroll in an online class. Pick what suits you the best and perform those asanas to strengthen your body and de-clutter your mind.
3. Dance The Stagnation Away
Starting your work day at home doesn’t have to be boring. It can be energetic and healthy. If you’re someone who doesn’t like to go for traditional exercises, what better than shaking your body to your favourite music tracks?
Put on a pair of headphones and dance all the stress in your body and mind away. Starting your day with this kind of an adrenaline rush will not only help you stay energetic throughout the day but will also help you stay in a motivated mood. Dancing is also a great way to stay in shape as all your body muscles are in motion.
Only five to ten minutes of starting the day with a dance to your favourite songs can change the way you work and feel. Create your dance playlist and start your very own solo dance party mornings.
4. Jump Ropes and Indoor Cycling
Combining jump rope routines and indoor cycling is great to keep the exercise routine monotony at bay. You can opt for just one of these or can choose to alternate your days with each.
A skipping rope can have many unique routines. You’ll never have a dull and repetitive time with a jump rope. If you’re unaware of how to start, get yourself a skipping rope, and go through some amazing videos that can help you find the best routines for you. There are some really good beginner friendly jump rope routines on the internet that can help you get started.
For indoor cycling, you only have to get yourself an indoor exercise bike. The best part about choosing indoor cycling is that you get to do a lot of other things while you’re at it. You can watch videos and even do your work while you’re cycling those muscle tensions away. Cycling is also a great exercise to improve your cardiovascular health.
You can start your days with jump rope and indoor cycling routines. You don’t need to start with a long duration of exercising. Just 20-30 skips and 15 minutes of cycling make a great start. You can scale up the duration when you’re more comfortable, and your muscles get used to it.
Pick One Over Picking None
While you might be tempted to think that you’ll start tomorrow or the day after or next month or next year, we all know how that pans out; tomorrow never comes. It is best to get started now. If you’re having a hard time fitting two or more of these in your routine, start with one. There’s no rule to fit all of the work from home exercises in your daily routine. You can pick one and even stick with one if that works for you.
Staying fit and healthy while working from home isn’t only about exercises but also about what you eat. It is easier to get into binge eating mode while working remotely. Taking care of what you eat and exercising regularly is the best way to combat physical and mental health issues.
Bookmark this page so that if you find yourself slipping away from the idea of work from home exercises, you can revisit this page and remind yourself of the importance of fitness for remote workers.
As philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson rightly said, “The first wealth is health.”