Remember those mornings, not too long ago, that you strapped on your bicycle helmet and pedaled a few miles to your workplace? Or the lunch hours you spent on a jog with other sporty colleagues before returning to your desk? What about the long, head-clearing walks home from the office in the evenings?
Working from home can offer many benefits — cozy surroundings, daytime pajama bottoms, and great coffee, to name a few. But transitioning from an office building to a corner of your bedroom or a backyard studio affects some workers adversely.
Per Gallup research, some remote employees have reported increased depression and loneliness, and some state that it’s difficult to stay physically active without the habits they’ve cultivated over years of in-person work. (Think lunchtime tennis with colleagues or a daily group power walk between meetings.)
It’s no secret that exercise increases endorphins, those feel-good chemicals that flood our brains and contribute to a sense of wellbeing. Without it, we can feel anxious and sluggish. Fortunately, ways to ensure daily movement when you work from home abound. And you can tailor routines to your particular needs to keep your body and mind at peak fitness.
Set yourself up for success
Here are several strategies that will help you maintain a workout routine while working from home.
Start the day in workout clothes
Many people sit down at their desk each day in workout clothes and sneakers and keep a yoga mat and a weight set, balance disc, exercise bands, or other fitness equipment close at hand. This step makes it easy to transition into exercise whenever time allows.
Prep your gear in advance
If you’re more of an outside exerciser, gather your gear the night before so that when it’s time to walk, run, bike, or strap on the in-line skates, you’ll have everything you need without searching for missing earbuds or kneepads.
Schedule workouts on the calendar
You’re already in the habit of scheduling business online meetings on your calendar. Treat your daily workout with the same respect. Write down the specific time you’ll exercise each day in your day planner and note the type of activity you plan to do. One tip for scheduling: Some studies suggest exercising at the same time each day helps instill movement as a habit.
Vary your workouts
Perhaps Mondays you’ll jog three miles, Tuesdays you’ll do a home yoga practice, and Wednesdays you’ll pedal on a stationary bike for an hour or ride outside. Mix things up to keep your exercise routine fresh and exciting, so it’s something to look forward to rather than dread.
Consider a fitness tracker
While not for everyone, a fitness tracker on your phone or wrist allows you to create step goals for the day and provides a small motivational reward when you’ve met those goals — usually a vibration, sound, and/or fun graphic. Such devices could reduce sedentary behavior and increase movement. If you’re wild about new running and bicycling routes, sign up for a program such as Strava, which helps you find the perfect trail while allowing you to meet and compare notes with other users online.
Work toward a goal
If you’re goal-oriented, sign up for a 5K walk, a 10K run, or another competitive exercise event. If you crave a sense of community in your workout routine, sign on with a group such as the Train Like a Mother Club, which offers training plans, strength-training videos, and social media support. Or go digital with free and low-cost apps and fitness groups. You could even challenge colleagues to join you in a Facetime or Skype workout.
Don’t give up
Even the most diligent among us has to miss a business meeting sometimes. Likewise, if you have to skip a scheduled workout, it’s not the end of the world. Be flexible and consider whether you could sneak in a 30-minute evening walk. Even half an hour of moderate movement has remarkable benefits, such as increasing muscle and bone strength, improving heart and lung fitness, and reducing your risk of heart disease and stroke.
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