There is no doubt that COVID-19 has influenced many areas of our lives, including exercise and how we work.
As most of us have moved our workspaces home, it can be easy to ignore the problems that it may involve. Before the pandemic, maybe you were one of the 1 million workers who either walked or biked to work every day. Or you were part of the 12% who took a Go Train or similar forms of transportation.
While biking or walking is healthier, the Go Train also has some benefits.
Instead of sitting, you could stand for the duration of the trip before you sit at a desk all day.
Travelling to work is just one of the many areas that have changed over the past few months.
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Our travel to work or school has changed the most, mostly because we work at our home desk nowadays. Walking to work or school has been replaced by walking to our home office. The number of daily steps have been greatly reduced due to our new school or work environments.
In high school and university, all your classes are at different locations. Most universities say it takes about 10 minutes to transition between classes, which is an excellent way to stretch the legs after a long lecture. This benefit has been lost with every program moving online.
Similarly, those in a career only need to change Zoom rooms to participate in online meetings, rather than walking to another room.
We are starting to see a negative side effect from our new daily routines, the good news is there are small changes you can make to see positive results.
How Working From Home Affects Us
When working from home, most tend to be less productive. First off, there are distractions not seen in a school or typical office such as TV, family members, crying babies, barking dogs, loud neighbours etc.
Sitting all day without constantly moving restricts blood flow to the brain, essential for any job regardless of the field. Lack of exercise affects our mental health in a negative way. We feel down, unmotivated and these feelings have a direct relationship with our quality of work.
Students and workers can relate to those days when you would look at the clock and wait for the bell to ring, meeting to end or the end of your shift.
The chance to stand up and leave the class was a welcome relief. Maybe your workplace has a designated lunchtime, or you start and leave your job at a specific time.
While we can’t change the fact that we are all working from home, we can change how we respond to it. Instead of sitting for hours while you work, it’s important to take frequent breaks. Exercises for working from home may not be your traditional gym routines.
Some simple tips to try to increase your daily steps:
For bathroom breaks try using the one on a different floor then your home office.
Do not eat at your desk
If there are restaurants within walking distance, order pick up once in a while (support local businesses!)
Set a timer on your watch, phone or computer to remind you to get up and walk around the house – visit every room (remembering to be mindful of others working)
Ideas for Exercising at Home
Depending on what “colour zone” you live in, you might not have access to a gym because it’s closed or has reduced hours. This restriction may be discouraging because some people find it more motivating to workout at their favourite fitness gym. But there are many exercises for working from home!
If you don’t have one already, consider investing in a treadmill or gym equipment in your basement. Sure, it might be expensive, but if you compare the costs between that and a yearly gym membership, it might not be too much of a difference. Plus, you can work out without having to go into the freezing cold during the winter.
However, let’s talk about some options when it’s a bit warmer and the sun is shining. If you have a dog, taking them for a daily 25 – 30 minute walk can significantly reduce your chances of heart disease, high blood pressure and type two diabetes.
You can get some fresh air and get a boost of energy at the same time!
Quick and Simple Stretches
If you’re into yoga, what do you do if the studio is closed? Many yoga classes are moving online that provide great exercises for working from home:
Downward Dog is a popular stretch, even if you aren’t a yoga enthusiast. Essentially, you’re making yourself look like a triangle. Position your hands on the floor, position your feet a reasonable distance apart and then push your hips into the air.
This pose is great to stretch your hamstring and muscles in your shoulder.
Another familiar yoga pose is Child’s Pose: rest your butt on your heels and reach forward as far as you can while looking at the ground. Child’s Pose has the effect as Downward Dog, but also stretches muscles in the back.
Any yoga pose you choose should stretch muscles that you don’t usually use in day-to-day activities and keep those muscles flexible.
Regardless of your age or career path, working from home doesn’t mean we should be exercising any less. Whether it’s running on a treadmill, walking your dog, or doing the Downward Dog, there are lots of creative ways we can keep active through this pandemic.