You’ve successfully escaped the office boxes and made your way into a work-from-home schedule; congratulations!. You’re probably imagining sleeping in late, trading in tight office clothes for your baggy pj’s, and saving money skipping your morning latte stop in favor of your own Keurig creation.
There are obvious benefits to working from home; easing management of your work/life balance and getting a bit of money back into your account, but there are also downsides. According to a 2012 US Bureau of Labor Statistics study, telecommuting to work might actually cause your boss to have higher expectations, expecting you to work even more hours, including nights and weekends.
Your own ideas about what your newfound freedom allows for also be slightly off the mark. If you spent all day sitting at the office, you shouldn’t expect that to change much just because the treadmill is now only one room over. You might actually find yourself moving even less without your co-workers stopping by your desk to ask you out for lunch; not to mention the absence of those flights of stairs that were between you and your next meeting.
Your new home-work life is going to require you to set some clear boundaries, not just about your working hours, but also about what meal and exercise breaks you allow yourself. Thankfully we have a few tips to help you create a healthy “work at home” fitness routine.
Don’t put off your exercise.
You’ve taken back the time wasted on your morning commute, but instead of using it for beauty sleep you can instead get your exercise in early. You don’t need an expensive home gym, simply a dedicated space to work out. The kettlebell is one of my favourite home workout tools. If you’ve never used one these you can check out Kettlebells for Dummies or the DBK program at DailyBurn to to get you started with a proper technique. Unless you have to check into an early morning Skype meeting, your shower can wait until later in the day.
Keep some healthy snacks at hand.
You’re probably going to find yourself stuck in conference calls alot more than expected. Having some healthy snacks like protein bars, almonds, or dry roasted edamame at your desk can stop you from sprinting to the junk food on your next break. Sitting at your desk certainly won’t burn as many calories as a job that requires standing and walking, your brain requires a constant flow of fuel. According to Scientific American, the brain requires a huge amount of energy relative to its size; as much as 20% of our resting metabolic rate comes from just brain activity! This is because your brain is constantly burning fuel; it can’t store it like your muscles do. This means that the brain needs a steady influx of glucose into the blood stream. To keep in top mental shape, you should try not to go more than four hours without at least a small protein/smart carb snack.
Make sure you get up and move every hour.
Researchers now believe that NEAT is the biggest factor in not only our health but our weight maintenance. You can alarm on your phone or try a program like StandApp to remind you to get up and take your activity breaks. Try one of the many one-minute workouts to get your blood pumping and boost your brain power (and productivity!). Stretching while you sit at your desk and even just standing up when you get the chance can make a big difference in your mental and physical health.
Take a lunch hour (or half hour).
You’ll likely be tempted to simply stay sitting in front of the computer when you eat, just like you did at the office. Instead, try marking a daily meeting on your calendar, to go have lunch and take a quick walk around the block, or even just the house. Even though you’re not in the office anymore, it’s still important to have lunch with your co-workers on occasion. Working remotely can make you feel disconnected and even out of the loop when it comes to big projects and decisions. Spending time face-to-face with your co-workers helps you feel like you’re still a part of the team (and also keeps you up to date on the latest office gossip).
It takes some time to work out a new routine, so don’t be too hard on yourself when you form new habits. Celebrate when you succeed and learn what works (and what doesn’t) for YOU. Remember, you might be working from home but you’re still WORKING. Set aside all the money you saved on Starbucks and the dry cleaner to take a well-deserved vacation!