The reality is, working from home will be the norm for the foreseeable future so keeping fit and healthy (both mentally and physically) is essential. With routines out of whack, you’ll need to keep active while still working from your sofa, dining table or kitchen counter.
In fact, recent research from Currys PC World indicates the UK could be dubbed a nation of sitters, with the average office worker spending 75% of their waking hours sitting down or in a sedentary state. This prolonged sedentary behaviour can come with some serious health risks. The NHS states that being inactive can lead to obesity, type 2 diabetes, certain types of cancer and early death. But it also takes a mental toll. Taking regular movement breaks, or even just standing at your desk, can give your brain a breather and therefore lead to better concentration and improved productivity.
Every little helps
Getting a good workout has loads of health benefits, both mental and physical, but that doesn’t mean spending hours following fitness videos or running marathons. It could include anything that you can safely do within government guidelines, like going for a walk, gardening, stretching or dancing. The WHO recommends that you should aim for around 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity throughout the week.
The London Fitness Guy, a celebrity fitness expert also known as James Stirling, understands just how powerful exercise is to make you mentally and physically stronger. He explains that, even if you are sitting down behind a desk for eight hours, that shouldn’t stop you from getting your movement in throughout the day. Some tips include:
- Walk while you talk (take your meetings on-the-go)
- Go for a walk or run during your lunch break
- Set reminders and alarms on your phone or Fitbit to prompt movement away from the desk
- Regularly stretch at the desk and work the muscles that don’t get used while sitting down
Exercise makes you mentally stronger
Pandemics are stressful. This period of change and the upheaval of day-to-day routines can make us more reactive to seemingly minor events. In fact, pre-Covid-19, 72% of Brits already admitted to feeling stressed out during the usual working week, leading to anxiety and lack of sleep. With a quarter (24%) of those people saying that exercise helped them to reduce work-related stress, it could arguably be of even greater value while working from home in the current climate.
Being physically active helps to manage stress and anxiety, while also making you more resilient to forms of stressors – and therefore better equipped to deal with difficulties throughout the working day. A study found that just 30 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous movement can reduce symptoms of depression by up to 19%, proving physical exercise plays an important role in protecting mental health and building resilience against the struggles of working from home.
While it takes a lot of adjusting to the new normal, it is clear to see that keeping fit and exercising is key to maintaining good mental health throughout this period. It can be hard to find the time or the motivation, so a good fitness tracker will serve as a handy reminder to make you move more throughout the day.