6 Tricks for Staying Active When You Work from Home

Living in a global pandemic has given new meaning to the phrase “stuck at home.” And not only are many of us staying in more, many of us are also no longer going to a workplace each day. Before, that walk to and from the train each day might have been all you needed to get your steps in. But what’s been coined the WFH culture has made it hard for some people to stay active—and exercise is important for your health and wellness, especially if you have a chronic condition.

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If you’re at home most days, try these tricks to help you get motivated to move.

Make Virtual Workout Dates

If you have workout equipment at home—like a treadmill, exercise bike, or elliptical machine—and it seems to go untouched most days, add a little accountability to your routine.

Make a date with a friend to exercise while you Zoom, FaceTime, or just have a call over your lunch break, suggests Elizabeth DeRobertis, R.D., a registered dietician in Scarsdale, New York.

“I often have a hard time getting motivated at home but, just like the concept of a ‘gym friend,’ this can be applied to daily exercise at home too,” she says.

Binge-Watch While You Exercise

“I always say, if you have time to watch TV, you have time to exercise,” says DeRobertis. She recommends picking a streaming series you’ve been wanting to see, and watching it from your bike, treadmill, or even just standing up and walking in place during the show. Making this one work for you will take some self-discipline.

“The rule for the series is that you can only watch it while you’re moving, not from your couch or bed,” says DeRobertis.

Play Dance Music

Have a break between work calls and virtual meetings? “Turn on music you like and give yourself a half-hour of shaking your body while having fun,” says Connecticut-based certified personal trainer Jolene Ballard. Just a 30-minute dance break can burn 300 calories, not to mention boost your mood.

Keep Exercise Equipment Close

“Visual cues really help remind us to get some exercise,” says DeRobertis. “Putting inexpensive exercise bands or hand weights right near your couch can remind you to use them.” You might keep yours beside the remote control or next to your desk to pick up and do some reps any time you have downtime.

“Any little bit helps,” says Ballard.

Shadowbox

Heard of shadowboxing? Throwing some punches into the air is a great way to get in some cardio at home without requiring any equipment. Ballard says three two- to five-minute sets is all it takes to tone and burn stored body fat. Incorporate jabs, upper-cuts, and hooks in each session, and you can also add light weights for extra resistance.

Use Your Body Weight

Staying active really doesn’t require any fancy equipment. Body-weight exercises can help you build strength, flexibility, endurance, and coordination.

For example, push-ups work every upper-body muscle and can be done anywhere, depending on your level of ability. Try them against a couch or on the floor. If you need to make them easier, you can place your knees on the ground or a mat.

Ballard also recommends working the backs of arms with tricep dips, which can be done using a chair or a bench. Also, try wall squats by leaning your back against a wall as if you’re sitting in a chair. Start with however long you can do it, then work your way up to a minute a day to work your quads.

Burpees and squat thrusts are also great exercises to get your heart rate up and can be done safely at home, with no equipment, says Ballard. She recommends doing these types of exercises first thing in the morning on an empty stomach for optimal effect. Plus, you’ll get it out of the way before the workday even begins!

Of course, consult with your doctor or physical therapist before starting any new exercise regimen, to make sure it’s safe.

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