As we battle our way through another lockdown, it’s unsurprising that we’re less active than we were last year. The days are darker and colder and our earnest enthusiasm for outdoor activity has somewhat dwindled now that the novelty of these “unprecedented times” has worn off. According to Sport England, the number of adults doing less than 30 minutes of exercise a week reached almost 14 million by May 2020 – a rise of over 10 million.
Many of us started this year with resolutions to be more active whilst working from home but finding the time to step away from your desk isn’t always easy. Without the daily commute, walks for lunches or quick dashes to meet friends across town after work, it’s harder to get it in.
We’re all pretty clued up now on the need for an appropriate working from home space but it can only help us so much. If you’re spending your time chained to your laptop and its inevitable Zoom calls, there are easy ways to incorporate more exercise into your working day. According to fitness coach Rob Afflick, this is completely normal:
“Maintaining a healthy lifestyle whilst working from home is something many of my clients struggled with during the first lockdown.”
TP Bennett designer and yoga teacher Arjeta Grapci-Whitehouse agrees. “From sitting down for long periods of time and joining in with Zoom calls to dealing with family and other emotional challenges, it’s been tough to keep my body moving.”
We sat down with the two of them to discuss the best ways to integrate activity into your day, even when working from home. Here’s what they had to say.
Set yourself up for success
We all know the saying – “fail to prepare, prepare to fail.” Rob suggests starting your day 15 minutes earlier than usual in order to “mentally prepare” then dressing immediately in activewear: “This saves time by not eating into your working hours and leaves you ready for action at any moment without excuse. More importantly,” he adds, “it sets the tone.”
Bookend your day with activity
Adding short routines of activity before and after work gives your body the attention it needs. Rob likes to do this with a pre and post-work stretch as it “reduces stress in the mind and body,” helping you to feel more relaxed as well as reduce muscle tension and encourage good posture.
Check in with your body
When we’re constantly mentally stimulated, it’s so easy to ignore our bodies’ needs, going far longer than we should without water, adjusting our posture or even going to the bathroom. Arjeta suggests the moment before a new Zoom call is as good a time as any to check in with yourself and work out if you’re in need of a stretch.
“Before you return to your emails and Zoom calls, gently close your eyes or rest them on one spot. Bring attention to your breathing. Scan your body and notice how you are feeling. Do you notice any parts of your body that feel tense or uncomfortable? If so, is there anything you can do to help?”
She suggests using this a cue for a longer break as soon as you’re done.
Incorporate small activity into your day
And on that note, both Arjeta and Rob stress the need for regular, small bouts of activity throughout the day. “Taking regular 5-10 minute breaks throughout your working day, although a cliché, really helps,” says Arjeta.
As Rob suggests to his clients, the easiest way to do this is by setting physical reminders: “Set multiple alarms to leave your desk for a few minutes of mobility. Just get out of your seat to get your whole body moving, freeing up joints that have been static whilst allowing the mind time to refocus.”
Bring movement to your desk
Last but certainly not least, Arjeta suggests several “go-to yoga poses” you can incorporate movement into your posture even whilst you’re working at your desk.
Firstly, she suggests the following for stretching out your back: “Sit towards the front of your chair. Pull your belly button in for support. Create a reverse crunch by tapping your fingers to your knees, and then to your ankles or shins. Repeat, playing with the speed. When you are done, hold the forward fold for a breath or two. You can grab hold of your elbows and gently pull elbows down towards the floor. Breathe into your lower back. Notice where you can feel your body stretching. Inhale come back up to sit.”
She offers another quick pose good for stretching the legs: “Seated at the edge of your chair, bring your right ankle on top of left knee. Keep your knee in line with your ankle as much as possible. Gently flex your right foot. Inhale to lengthen the spine upwards, as you exhale lengthen the spine forward until you feel the stretch. Hold and take a few breaths before you switch sides.”
Want to know more about how curatd. can help with your working from home needs? Take a look here.