The pandemic has forced employers throughout the world to adopt new ways of operating, chief among them ‘working from home.’
While some people don’t have the luxury of working from their spare room or home office, the so-called laptop class – those who only need a computer and internet connection to do their job – have been getting to grips with this format on a part- or full-time basis for a year now.
The topic tends to divide opinion – some people love working from home, others can’t wait to get back to the office. Among the former, the appreciation stems from the ability to spend more time at home, see family, stay on top of household chores, and save money, time and stress by eliminating a daily commute.
Those who yearn for the office, meanwhile, bemoan the lack of social interaction and the unpredictable workday routine. Many experience a sense of disconnection working from home: rolling out of bed and booting up the laptop just doesn’t get them going like the early alarm clock and morning train or car journey.
Whatever camp you fall into, you can’t deny that working from home presents some challenges. Specifically with regards to health and fitness.
In this article, we’re going to provide some tips to help you stay in shape while working from home.
Working From Home: Good or Bad for Health?
As mentioned, opinion is split on the merits of working from home. As such, we can’t readily say that it’s bad for you – undoubtedly some people’s mental health has suffered while others have experienced an uptick. It really depends on the person.
Let’s consider the pros and cons. Two years ago, research conducted by the TUC found that getting to and from work every day takes an average of 59 minutes. To take a glass half-full approach, that’s one hour saved for the working-from-home crew.
It could mean an extra half-hour in bed and a half-hour saved in the evening, when you can simply turn off your computer and go about the rest of your day.
Alternatively, you could get up at the same time as you normally would but spend the time preparing a healthy breakfast, reading the newspaper or a good book, taking a leisurely shower, or catching up on some household chores.
We can probably say with some confidence that the majority of people aren’t exactly fans of their commute. Not too many people enjoy sitting in traffic or on a packed train… do they? OK, so where’s the downside to this hour saved? Who’s really grumbling about missing a commute?
The truth is, some people just miss the routine of waking up early, getting showered and dressed, and stepping out the door ready to tackle the day ahead.
The commute can be a drag but it’s quickly forgotten when you get to the office and stick the kettle on, or when you arrive home at night knackered and ready to relax.
We can’t say that working from home is necessarily good or bad. But we have heard quite a few stories from people who are struggling, not just with their mental health but also their physical.
After all, gyms are currently closed. We are encouraged to avoid crowds and spend most of our time indoors. Loneliness and social isolation are corollaries of the current government guidance.
Many people working from home wake up, switch on their computer, go about their work, fix themselves a quick, easy lunch, and neglect to exercise, spending their evenings reading emails, watching Netflix or tuning into the news for the latest soul-crushing update.
There’s got to be a better way.
1. Go for a Lunchtime Run
This one’s a no-brainer: staying active when working from home is essential. Not only does it work wonders for your mood, but it’ll help you stay in good shape while the gyms are shut.
Many people underestimate the restorative effect that sunlight provides, and there’s even a social aspect, after a fashion: that smile and nod of acknowledgement as you pass another runner on the pavement.
Of course, you don’t have to run on your lunch-break: you can do so before you clock on; it’s an excellent way to start the day. You could also schedule a run in during the afternoon if you prefer. Just make sure you don’t need to be in front of your computer for that half-hour!
2. Substitute a Coffee for a Green Smoothie
Caffeine is great, and has some serious health benefits. But as with anything, you can have do much of a good thing. What’s more, there may be a tendency to drink more coffee when working from home, and to neglect drinking water or other beverages.
The solution is simple: substitute one coffee a day for a green smoothie. You can still have your morning cuppa first thing (although we’d recommend a glass of water to help balance the lymphatic system and boost metabolism), but come midmorning, when you’re craving another, fire some fruit and veg into a blender with water and blitz it.
It’s all too easy to sacrifice nutrition when working from home. So, consuming one nutrient-loaded green smoothie a day is a smart move.
If you can’t stand the hassle of stocking the pantry with fresh fruit and veg, just throw a scoop of green superfood powder into the blender instead. We recommend Green Vibrance. But if you want the benefit of greens with some added protein, Maximum Vibrance is the one.
Related: 10 Green Smoothie Health Benefits
3. Batch-prepare Your Meals
Preparing fresh, nutritious meals from scratch every day is a real chore. It requires constant effort and ingenuity, at least it does unless you’re a natural in the kitchen. So, what’s the answer? Batch-preparing your week’s meals in advance of course.
Breakfast might be simple – granola, eggs, sourdough, fruit – but at lunch it can be all too easy to reach for a Pot Noodle or microwave meal.
We recommend batch-preparing your week’s lunches on the weekend. You can even prepare a few weeks’ worth and freeze them. Alternatively, make double helpings at dinner and have half for lunch the next day.
4. Take a Vitamin D Supplement
It’s a sad truth, but most of us are vitamin D-deficient. Which is why Public Health England recommends that everyone takes a supplement during autumn and winter. Stay-at-home mandates only exacerbate this nationwide problem.
Needless to say, if you’re following Tip 1 you may be getting some natural sun on your face during peak daylight hours. But given our notoriously unpredictable climate, there’s no guarantee. Best to supplement to make sure.
5. Stay Hydrated
Water coolers are staples of the modern office, so most of us don’t have a problem staying hydrated during the workday; strolling along to the water cooler to fill our glass gives us a break from our screens. But what about at home?
Sadly, it can be all too easy to ignore our body’s cries for water. Keep a glass by your side when you work and top it up regularly throughout the day.
6. Create a Relaxing Environment
Clutter isn’t conducive to a productive workday. Nor is having the TV on in the background. If you want to get the most out of your day, make an effort to create a relaxing environment in which to work. If possible, set up a separate office space and get into the zone.
You might want to light a candle or play some relaxing music, or alternate between sitting at the desk and sitting on the couch. Some people like to station themselves at a window, to enjoy the fresh air and a view of nature.
Ultimately, the goal is to eliminate stress.
7. Stock Up on Healthy Snacks
Seaweed thins. Rice cakes. Kale chips. Carrots and hummus. Apples and pears. Nuts. Olives. Blueberries. Greek yogurt.
If you’re well stocked, there’s really no excuse to deviate from your diet. When you get peckish, reach for a healthy snack and fuel up.
Well, there you have it: 7 practical tips to keep your health and fitness goals on track while you’re working from home.
Naturally, it’s important to recognise that not every day will be perfect. You might miss your run one day due to stormy conditions, or fall off the wagon and hit the drive-thru during your lunch break. We’re humans, after all: we’re fallible!
The crucial thing to remember is that working from home can be an incredibly positive experience if you only have the right mindset. Get up every day with a spring in your step, fuel your body with nutrients rather than empty calories, strive to get your body moving, and make sure you’re getting a good night’s sleep.
Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.
Sadly, most of us are vitamin D-deficient. Which is why Public Health England recommends that everyone takes a supplement during autumn and winter.