The current situation is challenging us all to change the way that we connect, socialise and work.
As a husband to a paramedic working on the front line during this national crisis, even our family is having to adapt the way we connect and share our daily experiences.
For the next twelve weeks, my wife has voluntarily decided to distance herself from me and our daughter, both for our own protection, and to protect her ability to continue to do her job and save others.
In spite of the challenges, staying active while I work from home and look after our daughter has been at the front of my mind. As a former exercise instructor, I have seen the value of physical activity in staying physically and mentally healthy.
Being confined to our homes and the disruption to our routines makes being more active challenging but we need to keep moving.
So where should you start?
You may be more active at work than you think you are, whether you consider yourself active or not.
Just by way of getting to your workspace and walking to meetings, you are providing your body with some of the movement it needs to keep your brain going, loosen your joints and improve circulation.
What changes when we work from home?
Without some simple changes, the reality of working from home can mean we move less and this will affect our physical and mental wellbeing. It will also affect our focus, how productive we are and how we make decisions. Making a habit of sitting for long periods of time can affect us more than we realise. Those little niggles, tensions and aches in the body may be caused by staying still for a long time.
However, working from home can also bring many opportunities. Even for people who are required to remain at their workstation all day, there are some simple ways to get some movement into our daily routine at home
What will you do with your commuting time?
Use the time that you would normally spend commuting, travelling to a meeting, or even walking around the office to move and stretch at home. Take a short stroll (making sure to follow government guidelines), walk around the garden or stretch in your lounge (but avoid the sofa at all costs). There are thousands of activity videos online.
Stand up from your work station frequently, change posture and periodically look away from the screen.
Move little and often
Moving every 5-10 minutes is good. Don't save it up for one big burst of exercise. Ideally do both; move often and also go for that 30 minute walk, run or cycle.
During breaks, consider simple movements to help release tension in the body and improve circulation e.g. squats, heel raises, shoulder rotations, marching on the spot or bending side to side.
Get dressed…don’t stay in your pj’s! Not only will it make you feel more productive, but the very act of slipping on fresh clothes helps to wake up the body and mobilise the joints.
Go for a walk (follow government guidelines)
If concentration is dwindling or muscles are feeling tight, stop…get up and go! This will boost productivity, reduce brain fog and keep the body awake.
If you can, fit in short work outs during the day. See Dr Charterjee's kitchen workout as an example.
Connect and share
During this time, technology can support our behaviours and allow us to support others. You can use your device to access online exercivse videos, set reminders to move, stand or change position.
If technology isn’t for you, then existing habits can be a great anchor for developing new ones.
A note next to the kettle, by your toothbrush or next to the fridge can remind you to take action while doing something you would normally do.
Why not stand on one leg while you are waiting for the kettle to boil, or do a handful of squats every time you pass the fridge?
You only need one square metre to do the most basic of exercises, but if you have a garden, large room or set of stairs you can get all kinds of useful movement into your day.
Now is the time to connect, change the way we communicate, and keep working on those activity habits that we can take forward and apply at home or away.
More resources to support you in staying active at home:
- NHS One You: Easy ways to move more
- NHS Live Well: Sitting exercises
- NHS Live Well: 5 week strength and flex plan
- Sport England: How to stay active while you are at home
- Mind: Physical activity and your mental health
- British Heart Foundation: Get active indoors
How are you staying active at home?
Get in touch and let us know. You can share with us on social media too: #wecanmove #StayInWorkOut