Telecommuting has become the new norm in today’s society. While some Americans have been working from home for decades, rates of telecommuting have increased dramatically since the beginning of 2020. According to Stanford University economist Nicholas Bloom, 42% of U.S. employees now work completely from home, while many other employees work partially from home.
While it typically offers a more flexible schedule, working from a home office often comes at the cost of less physical activity. You won’t be walking around a spacious corporate office, nor will you be walking to and from a parking lot. When you start your workday, you’ll probably walk from your bedroom to your home office where you’ll stay until the end of the workday. There are ways, however, to stay physically active when working from a home office.
Take Standing Breaks
Regardless of how many hours you spend working on a typical day, you should take frequent standing breaks. Research shows that the average office worker burns about 60 to 130 calories per hour when sitting. When standing, on the other hand, office workers burn up to 200 calories per hour.
To increase your level of physical activity when working from a home office, make a point to stand for at least five minutes every half-hour. Not only will you burn more calories, but you’ll stretch your muscles in the process. Standing engages your muscles so that they can support the weight of your body. As a result, you’ll be better protected against muscle strains and other musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) if you take frequent standing breaks.
Wear a Fitness Tracking Device
A fitness tracking device is a smart investment if you’re trying to stay physically active when working from a home office. Also known simply as a fitness tracker, this wearable device will collect and record biometric data about your physical activity levels.
Wearing a fitness tracking device allows you to easily track your physical activity levels. Nearly all of them can track the number of steps you take. You’ll see firsthand exactly how many steps you take when working from a home office. If the number is low, you can make changes to your workday so that you spend more time walking.
Fitness tracking devices can even calculate calorie expenditure. They’ll use the collected biometric data to determine how many calories you burn. If you’re trying to lose weight, you can compare your daily calorie expenditure to your daily calorie intake. Although there are dozens of weight loss programs out there, none are more effective than maintaining a calorie deficit. If you burn more calories than you consume, you’ll inevitably lose weight.
Some of the most popular fitness tracking devices include the following:
- Samsung Galaxy Fit Activity
- Amazfit Bip
- Fitbit Inspire HT Activity Tracker
- Fitbit Charge
- Xiaomi Mi Band
- Huawei Band
- Fitbit Versa
- Garmin Forerunner
- Garmin Fenix
- Apple Watch
Squeeze Exercise Into Your Schedule
Try to squeeze exercise into your schedule. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) states that only one in three adults get the recommended amount of exercise per week. It’s certainly difficult to exercise when working from a home office since you’ll be cooped up inside your home for all or most of the day. Nonetheless, you can still make time to exercise – and you don’t even have to leave your home.
Depending on the size of your home office, you may be able to set up some basic workout equipment in it. If you’re trying to build muscle, you can set up a weight bench with a barbell. Alternatively, you can set up free weights, such as dumbbells or kettlebells. Instead of just relaxing during your breaks, you can lift weights to burn calories and build muscle.
If you’re more focused on losing weight, you can set up a treadmill or an elliptical machine. Treadmills and elliptical machines are designed for aerobic exercise, which is particularly useful at promoting weight loss. Of course, you can always go for a short walk or jog outside of your home during breaks. Just remember to squeeze some type of regular exercise into your schedule.
Install a Pull-Up Bar
A pull-up bar will allow you to exercise while working from a home office. While some of them work in different ways, most of them are designed to fit inside a standard doorframe. You don’t have to mount the pull-up bar using screws or bolts. Rather, you can place it inside the doorframe of your home office.
Unlike most other types of exercise equipment, pull-up bars are inexpensive. Most of them cost just $20 to $30, which is a small price to pay, considering the exercise benefits they offer. Once placed inside the doorframe of your home office, you can perform pull-ups to engage your upper-body muscles. The only downside is that you won’t be able to close your office door – at least not without removing the pull-up bar.
Eat Outside of Your Home Office
Eating snacks and meals outside of your home office can have a positive impact on your physical activity levels. Many office workers consume snacks and meals at their desks. One report, in fact, found that over two in three office workers at their desk. Eating snacks and meals at your desk is convenient, but it means you’ll spend more time sitting and less time standing and walking.
Rather than eating snacks and meals inside your home office, go to a separate room, such as your dining room, to consume them. You’ll burn calories by walking to and from your dining room. Assuming you eat three or four times per day, all that walking will have a meaningful and positive impact on your physical activity levels.
Another reason you should eat snacks and meals outside of your home office is that it promotes a clean desk. Eating at your desk will inevitably make it dirty. Crumbs may fall down into your keyboard, thereby creating a breeding ground for germs. The next time you use your computer, you may transfer some of these germs to your fingers. You can keep your keyboard and desk clean by eating outside of your home office.
Avoid Going From Screen to Screen
You should avoid going from screen to screen when working from a home office. What does this mean exactly? Many office workers who telecommute tend to move from their computer to a TV or a smartphone. After staring at a computer screen for seven or more hours, they go to their living room, where they spend the reminder the day of staring at a TV or smartphone.
There’s nothing wrong with watching TV or using your smartphone at the end of a workday, but you should do so in moderation. Don’t spend all your free time after working staring at another screen. Instead, use this time to move around or exercise. When you wrap up the workday, spend an hour or so moving around before watching TV or using your smartphone.
Stand and Walk During Calls
If phone calls are a common part of your workday, try standing and walking around your home office while on the phone. RescueTime reports that office workers spend an average of 37 minutes on their phones each day. Some office workers spend well over an hour on their phones per day. Regardless, talking on the phone is the perfect opportunity to stand up and around your home office.
There are even headsets available that can make it easier to stand and walk while talking on the phone. You won’t have to hold your phone to your ear when wearing a headset. Calling headsets are designed to connect to your phone either via a cord or wireless Bluetooth technology. Therefore, you can easily stand up and walk around your home office while wearing one.
Choose a Standing or Hybrid Desk
You can use either a standing desk or a hybrid desk to increase your physical activity levels. As you may know, standing desks are characterized by an elevated height that requires you to stand while using them. In comparison, hybrid desks feature an adjustable height that allows you to raise or lower the surface. A hybrid desk can essentially be converted into either a traditional desk or a standing desk.
With a standing or hybrid desk, you can stand while using your computer and performing other office-related work. As previously mentioned, standing forces your body to burn more calories than sitting. Over the course of an entire workday, you’ll burn a substantial number of calories when using one of these alternative desks.
The benefits of using a standing or hybrid desk don’t end there. A study cited by TIME found that office workers who used a standing desk were more productive than those who used a traditional desk. Standing promotes circulation by pumping blood through your body. Researchers believe that the increased circulation associated with standing can reduce fatigue and, therefore, improve productivity.
When shopping for a standing or hybrid desk, here are a few important things to consider:
- Material from which it’s constructed
- Height and width
- Cable grommets
- Caster wheels
- Cabinets or other storage solutions
- Warranty length
Optimize Your Productivity
Speaking of productivity, improving your productivity can help you stay physically active when working from a home office. Many office workers are less productive when telecommuting because they don’t have a boss or manager looking over their shoulder. They realize that they can work at their own pace without being noticed, so they work slower and less efficiently. If you are unproductive, though, you’ll spend an excessive amount of time in your home office.
To optimize your productivity when working from a home office, follow a strict schedule that includes a specific timeframe for all your planned tasks and activities. Set aside a specific amount of time for each task or activity. With a strict schedule, you’ll stay on track while being highly productive. You should then have extra free time at the end of the workday that you can use for exercising
Another tip for optimizing your productivity is to block out distractions. A survey conducted by JDP found that over half of office workers encounter more distractions at home when compared to a corporate office. Distractions are one of the leading causes of lost productivity because they divert your attention away from work-related tasks and activities.
You can’t avoid distractions from occurring, but you can block them out. When you begin your workday, isolate yourself to your home office where you can block out distractions. You’ll be more productive if you learn to ignore and block out distractions, which should give you more free time to exercise.
Stretch Your Body
While not as rigorous as lifting weights or jogging, stretching is a form of exercise. It burns calories while lowering the risk of MSDs in the process. Best of all, you can stretch your body without getting up from your office chair.
Neck rolls are an easy type of stretch that you can perform while sitting in your office chair. As the name suggests, they involve rolling your neck in a circular motion. Sitting for an extended period can cause your neck muscles to lock up. When this occurs, you may experience neck or back pain. Neck rolls can protect against such pain by loosening your neck muscles.
You can also stretch your arms and shoulders while sitting. Start by extending one arm in front of your body and cupping the elbow of that arm with your opposite hand. Next, gently pull your extended arm towards your body. When finished, repeat the process with your other arm.
Whether you just recently started working from a home office, or if you’ve been doing it for years, you should stay physically active. A sedentary lifestyle is a key risk factor for many chronic diseases. It promotes weight gain while restricting blood circulation, thereby increasing the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and other serious medical conditions. By staying physically active, you can protect yourself from these chronic diseases.
President at Office Chairs Unlimited – I have been in the furniture industry for over 20 years, and I’m an expert (just ask me) on all things furniture. I know a thing or two because I’ve seen a thing or two.