What happens to your body when you switch from working in the office to working from home? Learn the possible negative side effects of working from home – plus how to stay mobile and active.
Is working from home causing you to be less active?
During the pandemic in 2020-2021 and beyond, many corporate offices shut down which led to people across the world working from home for the first time. What was once a normal work day was completely tipped upside down, shuffled, and tossed back together in an effort to make working from home…work.
A normal day at the office used to involve a car ride to the office, a walk to the building, perhaps a walk up some stairs or through the office to get to your desk, several walks for a coffee in the break room, a walk to speak to your co-worker, a lunch break outing, and likely a couple walks for bathroom breaks.
Many people went from getting beyond 5-10 thousand steps per day by dinnertime to barely getting a thousand steps in – all due to working from home. Their commute was eliminated, their steps and movement were drastically reduced, and their amenities like coffee, snacks, lunch, and the bathroom were now a stone’s throw away.
Because of the pandemic, working from home allowed many people to be home around their families more. But the downside was they were sitting more, walking less, and being less social. As a result, people across the world became less active and started experiencing more musculoskeletal issues. What can be done to combat these changes and maintain energy expenditure at its previous amount?
Three ways to stay active while working from home
If you’ve noticed you’re tighter than ever and moving less, then here are three ways to be more active while working from home.
- Set an alarm for every hour during your work shift as a reminder to take a 5-minute micro-break. During this break, go do something inside or outside your home. For example, this could be walking to the laundry room to do a load of laundry, walking to the mailbox outside, or having a quick play session with your furry friends.
- Prioritize movement daily by scheduling in a workout: from a simple walk to a lifting session to hitting the courts. Your workouts should be enjoyable and effective. Strength training (at home or at the gym) is going to be the most effective option. On days you’re busy, even a 10-20 minute low-intensity walk is better than nothing. Walking is a great way to increase your daily steps and it’s also a nice way to clear your mind. You could even multitask and listen to an audible book, or a podcast, or call a friend to get more done while being active! This way you’re improving your physical health in addition to your mental wellbeing.
- Integrate a 5-10 minute mobility break midday to improve mobility, reduce tightness, and feel more limber. The best way to add in new healthy habits is to schedule them in. Try pairing it with a current habit you already do. For example: every day at noon I will do my mobility exercises before I grab lunch. If you pair a new habit with an existing habit, it’s easier to build consistency with it.
The secret to being mobile and limber while working from home is mobility
Mobility exercise is more effective than static stretching because it not only improves your flexibility but also requires more neuromuscular control and stability on your part. The older we get and the more we sit still, the tighter our joints and muscles can get. So it’s crucial we take action to stay limber! Ready for a 5-minute mobility routine? I’ve got one for you below that is bodyweight and won’t require any equipment except a small towel.
A healthy employee is a present employee
As more and more corporations commit to allowing their employees to work from home long-term, this means working from home is here to stay. In order for a business to be productive as usual, employees need to be able to work. They can’t work if they’re frequently sick or injured, so a healthy employee means a high-functioning business.
In order to keep employees healthy, more and more businesses are implementing what is called corporate wellness. This means they’re hiring corporate wellness consultants and coaches to guide their employees on how to remain holistically healthy: mind, body, and soul. One source reported that as of 2020, 53% of small companies and 81% of large companies had corporate wellness programs. Why? Companies with workplace wellness programs have significantly lower medical and absenteeism expenses than those who don’t. Corporate wellness consultants (like myself) can tailor strength training and mobility workouts to employees’ needs, host step challenges, provide accountability and support, and educate with workshops. If you own a business, have your HR division look into it. If you’re an employee and you don’t yet have a wellness program, bring up the idea to HR. Learn more about my corporate wellness services here.
Written by Dr. Steph Dorworth, PT, DPT, MTC, CSCS, CNC, CertPilates, StickMobility
Online Corporate Wellness Consultant and Coach