8 Ways to Stay Healthy When You’re Working from Home
In the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak, many people are working and schooling from home for the first time ever. Good health practices are essential at any time, but especially right now. So how do you stay healthy when you’re working from home?
Fortunately, over the last several years (and with the rise of telecommuting), many Americans have learned more and more about maintaining a healthy lifestyle while working from their remote offices. It may seem overwhelming at first, but staying fit will help you stay productive, boost your energy, and keep your body healthy and strong.
If you’re adjusting to the concept of working-from-home, here are 8 tips to help you stay healthy and active while you work remotely.
1. Keep a Routine
One of the most important ways to stay healthy (whether you work from home regularly or go into an office) is to stick to a routine. Make your sleep, self-care, meals, and workouts a priority—add them to your calendar and keep the date!
A healthy routine doesn’t end at scheduling workout time on your calendar. Sticking to a regular schedule for all your daily activities will help you establish good sleep patterns as well. Even if you’re working from home, go to bed at a regular time each evening and wake up at the same time in the morning.
Prepare for work and set yourself up with a pattern, just as you would if you went into the office. This advice also applies to kids. If they are homeschooling, a regular schedule will help them stay focused and lower their stress.
2. Eat a Balanced Diet
Those who work-at-home report that sticking to a balanced diet is one of the biggest challenges. After all, when the fridge (or snack cupboard) is just a few steps away, it’s easy to nosh. Cravings are especially tough to ignore when you’re feeling stressed.
Keep healthy snacks ready to go at a moment’s notice. Apples, bananas, baby carrots, and clementines are a great bet. Snack on pepper slices and hummus or salsa. Focus on fruits and vegetables, especially as a mid-day option. You may want to pre-prepare your lunch as you would for commuting to the office if it helps you make good choices.
If you’re feeling peckish, you may also be dehydrated. Drink plenty of water or brew yourself a soothing cup of tea. Don’t let working from home be an excuse to indulge in unhealthy options.
3. Stay Up on Hydration
As mentioned above, dehydration can mask itself as hunger. Dehydration can also make us feel tired, slow, and foggy. Now more than ever, it’s essential to stay hydrated, especially as you work from home.
Getting adequate water will help keep your immune system strong. Proper hydration helps all systems in your body to work optimally, including your joints and muscles and is essential for good health.
Encourage yourself to drink more by adding fruit or flavor to your water. Treat yourself with sparkling, flavored water, or brew a pitcher of iced herbal tea. Our bodies need water to function.
4. Move Regularly
Don’t let working from home give you an excuse to stay sedentary. Whether you’re staying fit at the office or working from home, it’s important to break up your day by standing and moving as much as possible.
If you’re working from a desk, take frequent breaks. Stand often and, if possible, use an ergonomic standing desk. You can also prop up books or a box to create a makeshift standing desk in a pinch. Your monitor should be at eye level and your arms should be bent comfortably with wrists at-or-below elbow level.
Have a tough time remembering to stand up? Set a timer on your computer or phone to remind you to stand every 20-30 minutes. Even a few minutes of movement will help you increase circulation and counteract the perils of sitting.
5. Take a Walk
When you’re working from home, you may sequester yourself to your home office or a spare bedroom. It’s good to get fresh air and there’s no better way than to go for a brisk walk!
Take a break at noon and walk around the block. Take your pets for a walk or run around the yard for a few minutes with your kids. A 10-20 minute walk is a great way to jumpstart your productivity and offers plenty of health benefits as well.
If you use a fitness tracker, aim for 6,000-10,000 steps per day. Even if you come in short, you’ll be conscious of your activity levels. Compete with your spouse or friends to see who can hit their step goal for the day.
6. Engage in Light Stretching
Light stretching will ease tension and muscle tightness that can build up in your neck and shoulders when you slump over your laptop. Do some gentle neck stretches, shoulder rolls, arm, and wrist stretches to stay comfortable.
Do a regular posture “check-in” to ensure you aren’t slouching or letting your shoulders slowly creep up as you work. Hunching is a common posture for many people when they’re stressed or tense. Remind yourself to relax and stretch your muscles.
Light yoga can also help you stay fit while working from home. Warm up for your workday with some hatha yoga by following an app or online tutorial. Keep your joints healthy by moving and stretching regularly.
7. Encourage Kids to Get Active
If you have kids who are home from school, it’s a lot to juggle with your workday. Help your children dispel some of their energy and stay fit by encouraging them to exercise.
When kids have screen time, encourage them to play video games that incorporate activity and movement. Consoles like the Xbox 360 Kinect, the PlayStation Move, and the old-fashioned Nintendo Wii can detect motion and encourage kids to get in the game. Other games for tablets or phones can help kids practice fine motor skills.
Even better than screen-based fitness, try a bike ride, a basketball game in the driveway, or baseball in the backyard. If the weather isn’t cooperating, find ways to get active indoors and break up schoolwork with fitness bursts. Not only will this boost your kids’ fitness but also relieve stress and help concentration.
8. Reduce Stress
Working from home can be stressful, especially when it’s outside your routine. This stress, compounded by worries about current events and the economy, can wreak havoc on your immune system and health. Fortunately, there are many steps you can take to reduce your stress.
Be sure to incorporate self-care activities throughout your day. Take extra time for mindfulness and calming activities. Stick to your “normal” routine as much as possible by getting dressed for work, setting yourself up with a work station, and fitting in time for exercise and healthy meals.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to turn off the news and take a break from your screens for a while. When we are inundated with a 24-hour news cycle, it’s easy to feel stressed and on-edge. Give yourself a healthy space to focus on your wellbeing.
At the Orthopaedic Hospital of Wisconsin, our patients’ health and safety are our number one priority. As you work from home, take steps to focus on fitness and wellbeing to keep your stress levels low and your immune system healthy and strong.