The world of work has been changing at an unprecedented pace over the last few weeks. There is a lot of pressure worldwide to implement remote work solutions. While there are some benefits to employees working from home – including reduced commute times, not having to dress up or put on makeup – one of the downsides is the difficulty of keeping up a regular exercise routine.
The traditional work to gym commute is thrown off if you are forced to work from home. In addition, you probably find yourself sitting in an easy chair or in a home office all day long, not walking to offices or taking stairs to lunch. You might be finding yourself at a loss for ways to stay active and healthy at home.
Here are a few tricks to implement for a smoother transition!
- If you haven’t already incorporated your smart watch or fitness tracker into your life, it’s time to dig that device out of your sock drawer! NEAT or Non Exercise Activity Thermogenisis is the amount of energy or calories expended from all activities beyond sleeping, eating and sports-like exercise. When going through your daily life you naturally find ways to move throughout your day. Examples of these are walking to and from your car, grabbing lunch at the cafe two buildings over, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, and so on.
- Set a goal for yourself to reach about ten-thousand steps each day. Find ways to incorporate some of these “natural” movement breaks into your work day at home. Some strategies to keep yourself moving include setting an alarm once every hour to refill a glass of water, taking your work calls while on a walk outside, or even going through a small-space body-weight routine to complete while on meetings that keep you near your desk. Completing chores when you’re off work count too—so get to mowing! NEAT is so important to keep your body burning energy and could even help with stiff joints that don’t like staying in one position for long.
- Beyond tracking what you’re doing, it’s important to create a schedule for yourself to keep you accountable to your fitness. Humans typically thrive once they have established a healthy routine. If you usually stop at the gym before or after work, try and stick with that same timeframe. Just because you are working from home, doesn’t mean you should miss out on time spent taking care of yourself—exercise benefits extend beyond the physical sense and can have huge implications on mental performance!
- Accountability is critical. Basic recommendations for weekly exercise goals through ACSM are to achieve five days of 30 to 60 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise OR three days of 20 to 60 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise. These are just basic guidelines, so don’t hold yourself back! Develop a goal and find ways to stick to it. Some successful strategies I’ve seen from clients include telling a partner and having a weekly check-in, tracking habits in a spreadsheet, or reaching out to a personal trainer for guidance.
- If you choose to utilize a personal trainer, the benefits can be huge! Not only are they a fantastic source of accountability, but they can create creative and engaging workout routines that can be completed in many settings. If you choose to stay away from the gym, trainers are often open to meeting at local parks and trails or even online for a virtual setting. Beyond these in-person scenarios, many trainers are open to writing routines for clients to complete on their own.
Whichever way you choose to keep moving, have fun with it!
This is a challenging time for HR professionals. The nature of work is changing. With companies and governments around the world issuing guidance for employees to avoid contact and work from home, the way we work is being disrupted. There is strong research showing that moderate, regular exercise helps boost the immune system and ensuring that the rhythm of business doesn’t take over what had previously been times for exercise. For example, it’s hard to schedule an in-person meeting before 9AM, but it’s easy to schedule an online meeting at 6AM because people can join in their pajamas (without video!)
Here are a few key takeaways for HR professionals:
- Understand that employees’ NEAT is probably going to be impacted by working from home. Think about programs, policies, activities, and guidance to make sure that is protected.
- Create a feedback process – many companies are experiencing remote / home-based work for the first time now – what are the changes that employees are experiencing and how do they feel about it? – Particularly relevant to fitness.
- How might health benefits be revamped or adjusted? If your company has a gym membership discount, but now no one is going to the gym, could you use that benefit in a different way? Perhaps home exercise equipment? Or meeting a personal trainer in a park?
- Sharing success stories – different employees will react/adapt in different ways and seek out and share stories of how people have adapted to home-based work and incorporated fitness and exercise into their daily routine.
- Wash your hands. :-)