Are you currently working from home, in line with recent government guidance? You may be feeling anxious and restless, particularly if you’re not used to working remotely. As we don’t currently know how long we will need to work from home for, it’s vital that you set up a comfortable workspace for yourself.
Exercise can also be a great antidote to restlessness and anxiety, getting your energy levels up and making you feel more hopeful and positive. But how can you ensure you stay fit and healthy, and what forms of exercise can you do?
Our Deputy Physiotherapy Manager Roseanne Feinberg offers her top tips on the five things you can do to optimise your working-from-home space, including exercises you can do at your desk – and away from it – so you feel energised.
1. Choose a designated workspace
Find the best working environment to set up your desk (not the bed or sofa!).
Making some simple tweaks to your workspace can be beneficial to your physical health and help you to feel more comfortable during your day working from home.
Make sure your back, knees and hips are supported by your chair by adjusting the height so that your hips and knees are at a 90-degree angle. If your chair has an armrest, make sure it supports your elbows and forearms in their natural bent position.
If you don’t currently own an adjustable chair then choose a chair in your house that helps you achieve as close to this correct posture as possible.
Ensure the height of your computer is level with your eyes so as not to place strain on your neck and shoulders from looking down. Again, if it’s not possible to easily change your screen height, try to improvise – perhaps with the addition of books – and make sure you incorporate some additional neck and shoulder stretches. Your desk should be well lit too, so your eyes do not get tired.
2. Get out of your chair and take regular breaks
You should take regular breaks – get out of your chair and move around. Make a cup of tea, or simply walk up and down your house or flat a couple of times. Leaving your desk at least once an hour for a minute or so will help you stretch out and relax, so you can come back refreshed for the next batch of concentration.
3. Exercise at your desk
Loosen up a little in your seat by rotating your wrists and ankles, stretching your arms above your head or turning your head from left to right, up and down.
Chest stretches – put your arms out wide and push your chest outward, then bring your arms back around your body and hunch your back. Repeat three times, every so often.
Foot rotations – draw a circle in the air with one foot at a time, going clockwise and anticlockwise. Alternate with your feet, and do this every now and again.
4. Stand up for calls
Every time you make or answer a call, get up and move around. You will likely pace up and down, adding to your total daily energy expenditure. Make the most of your space to move, as it keeps up your step count. Getting up from your chair and moving around is great for your back too, keeping it mobile and flexible.
5. Schedule some exercise into your diary
One of the most effective workouts, this takes the form of a combination of body-weight exercises and or high-intensity interval training (HIIT). Body-weight workouts are relatively short and don’t take up much space, as they don’t require any equipment. Research shows that bodyweight home-based strength exercises such as press-ups, sit-ups, and planks are as important for health as aerobic exercises. Aim for a daily bodyweight session of 2-4 sets of each exercise, with 8-15 repetitions and 2-3 minutes rest between sets.
Muscle strengthening exercises are also recommended for at least two days each week. And you don’t need expensive equipment. Household objects such as tinned foods, water bottles or milk cartons can be used for resistance training. Examples of exercises include bicep curls and bent-over rows, while a humble table is perfect for incline push-ups. Do some resistance exercises against a wall or chair – grab a chair and stand in front of it with your feet apart. Lower yourself to a sitting position, keeping your shoulders and chest upright. Push back up and repeat. Try doing 3 sets of 10. You can also follow a simple program of yoga, doing step-ups using a makeshift step, modified push-ups or sit-ups, lifting weights, lunges, calf raises and half squats.
Running or walking
If you are able to get outside, going for a walk or running in the fresh air could be the perfect mental and physical exercise. This can be replicated indoors by walking on the spot or even incorporating stairs. You can start by doing this for 5-10 minutes, depending on your stamina and can always increase the time if it gets too easy.
Online classes and apps
With in-person fitness classes cancelled for the foreseeable future, many companies have put their workouts online.
Fitness apps / online classes:
FiiT / Fitness instructors:
Even if you’re not used to working from home or exercising regularly, we hope these tips provide a useful starting point so that you feel comfortable enough to start incorporating exercise into your daily routine.
Above all, it’s important that you set up your working-from-home space so that you are not straining yourself – taking regular breaks is crucial.
And if you’re still not sure where to begin, start with one of the online classes mentioned above – there’s so much on offer at the moment, much of it free.
Exercise is a great mood lifter and will do wonders in taking your mind off the current environment.