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Working from home can take a toll on the body when you’re not doing things as simple as walking to and from a public transit stop daily, or the parking lot to your office, or your workspace to a meeting flights of stairs away. Many are under strain sitting several hours in front of a computer without taking a break. But organizations can bring awareness to this lack of incidental activity and encourage remote employees to stay fit at home.
Studies have shown that remaining active can do wonders for keeping pretty much every part of the body in good shape, and it can even improve a person’s mood. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that everyone engage in “150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity per week, or a combination of both.”
Smartwatches and activity trackers recommend aiming for 10,000 steps a day which is the equivalent of just over eight kilometers (or five miles). That’s a lot of movement in the confines of an apartment or house. Fitness pros have tips, nevertheless, that are easy to exercise—pun intended—without a gym membership or expensive equipment purchase required. “An effective fitness program has five components, all of which you can do at home” Kevin Steele, Ph.D., exercise physiologist assures.
Together with the insights of Steele and others, here are the steps behind a good workout and tips for getting active at home.
How to Get Employees Started
In a survey sponsored by ClassPass, some 80% of professionals indicated that fitness activities have been crucial for setting up new routines, with 1 in 5 reporting that they’re using previous commute time to workout.
- Encourage everyone to block off a set amount of time in their calendar each day to pay attention to their body.
- If your organization uses a workplace communication tool such as Slack, suggest people post an away message indicating they’re taking a technology break and getting some fresh air. This away message will help to set boundaries (and encourage others to do the same).
- It’s easier than ever to squeeze in a workout between meetings and look presentable on video right afterward. Mandy Menaker, Global Head of PR at ClassPass, shares that “the biggest shift we’ve seen since the start of the pandemic is the rise of the lunchtime workout.” Lunchtime. Commute time. Between meetings time. Whatever works, be supportive of employees keeping fit at home.
- Based on firsthand experience Menaker also suggests pairing employees up for digital coffees with people they wouldn’t typically interact with, using a watercooler app like Donut to promote increased camaraderie and wellbeing.
- With the variety of fitness options available online, the best way for employees to find the right workout is by sampling multiple classes and instructors.
So, let’s get to it…
Raising body temperature and increasing blood flow to muscles, the Mayo Clinic states, may help reduce muscle soreness and lessen the risk of injury. To gradually rev up, suggest employees:
6. Enjoy an easy walk outside.
7. Hop on a bike for a leisurely cycle in the neighborhood
8. …or take a slow pace on a stationary bike (bike trainer stands can be found under $75).
Cardiovascular (aerobic) Workout
Cardio can help with weight loss, maintain brain function, and keep cholesterol levels in check. What cardio is easiest for remote workers to do?
9. Briskly walk around the house or neighborhood (well done if it’s a hilly outdoor walk).
10. Go up and down the stairs (lots of stairs in a residential tower—even better).
11. Pedal harder and faster than the leisurely pace of a warm-up.
12. Run or skip in place.
13. Do jumping jacks or lunges.
14. Crank up some music and dance to get stress-relieving endorphins flowing. For a throwback to the 90s (and a chuckle) check out Dance Your Pants Off from the original dancercise influencer, Richard Simmons.
Using bodyweight to train the major muscles and help improve posture and body strength can be as simple for people working from home as:
15. Starting the day with a plank hold. Camilla Thompson, a wellbeing coach from Sydney, Australia describes how it works out so many areas of the body and also benefits mental health. Thompson suggests “starting with a 30-second plank, and then moving up to 45 seconds, and then a minute. I do this three times a day.”
16. Weightlifting using household items like heavy cans, books, a sack of potatoes, or other weighty objects. (One fitness pro quips how kids are also useful as weights). Individuals can lay on their back and press the weights up, holding one in each hand, or extend the arms out, down, and to the side after pressing the weights up to remain fit at home.
17. Doing squats, crunches, push-ups and abdominal crunches—weights in hand give extra oompf.
Nonstrenuous stretching routines can improve muscular endurance and flexibility, help manage chronic low back pain and possibly even improve sleep quality. Promote simple floor stretches.
18. At a time of immense stress and uncertainty, the slow movement and controlled breathing of yoga can ease anxiety and help with physical tension. There are loads of online yoga sessions to suit individual levels and preferences.
19. The physical training method behind Pilates can improve balance and posture as well as body strength. Online resources for Pilates are plentiful too.
This is a return back to the beginning. Remind employees to…
20. Bring the heart rate down to a resting state with the same kinds of activities used for warm-up.
Of course, not everyone is going to want to follow a full five-part workout routine or follow an online session. The good news is, doing as little as 10 minutes of leisurely activity has been shown to be helpful to keep fit at home.
21. Regular housework can bring health benefits.
22. Gardening offers plenty of opportunities to stay active, from walking around the yard pruning flowers to turning soil and digging up weeds.
23. Walking around the house or tending to chores while talking on the phone breaks up constant-sitting.
24. Investing in a standing desk or standing to work at the counter also breaks up the monotony and wear of constant sitting.
25. Setting alarms to get up and stretch, tackle a chore, or just walk around the house—at least once an hour—introduces activity and forces much-needed screen breaks.
The Question IS…?
Just how effective are these tools and tips from the fitness trade? Research studies are rampant. But if you want to know about the people within your organization specifically, ASK and you’ll find out. ACT to show you care. Then ASK again, to be sure.
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