How to Stay Active When Working From Home

From joining an online yoga class to holding a plank between meetings, these tips will help you fit movement and exercise into your day.

ESB Professional/ Shutterstock
ESB Professional/ Shutterstock

More people than ever are working from home in the wake of coronavirus, and for those of us who are adjusting to this new normal, building new routines can be a challenge. Take exercise, for instance: If you were used to walking to and from your favorite lunch spot near the office, you might need a different strategy. Or if your gym is closed, as many now are, you may need to try an at-home workout to continue to fit movement into your day.

We asked our Thrive community to share the small ways they stay active when working from home. Which of these ideas will you try?

Set alarms to stand up and stretch

“I find it helpful to build exercise into your routine. I have an Apple Watch that tells me when I have been sitting too long without a break. I make it a point to use those alarms to take short breaks where I tend to stretch and exercise.”

—Phil La Duke, business consultant and author, Detroit, MI

Join an online yoga class

“The yoga studios I go to for classes are all closed, so I have shifted to online classes. One site with pre-recorded free yoga classes that I’ve been loving is Down Under Yoga. I plan to do the classes out on the deck when we have a warm day!”

—Cindy J., executive search and HR consultant, Boston, MA

Have a solo dance party

“I’m starting each morning with a solo dance party to begin my day on a positive note and to get the stress-relieving endorphins flowing. It only takes five minutes and it really elevates my mood, and makes me laugh. I’ve been especially loving Lady Gaga’s new song, and pretending that I’m dancing at her concert.”

—Lisa Abramson, executive coach, Menlo Park, CA

Use household items as weights 

“As someone who is used to going to the gym every morning, I’ve now had to improvise. I still wake up early to move my body, and these past couple of days I’ve gotten creative by using a sack of potatoes as weights. I try to wake up and move every single day before work.”

—Katie, PR manager, Seville, Spain

Put on workout clothes when you wake up

“I typically find that if I say I’m going to work out everyday, and then I skip two days, my most likely response is to quit altogether. So instead, I start with something small. For example, for the next four days, I am committing to putting my workout clothes on in the morning. That’s the only requirement. If I do more, that’s great! The end result is that I usually end up actually working out. But starting small works great for those of us who tend to have that all-or-nothing mindset.”

—Becky Morrison, executive coach, Ashburn, VA

Start the day with a plank hold

“I love to start the day with a little fitness challenge by holding a plank. It works out so many areas of the body, and it also benefits your mental health. I suggest starting with a 30-second plank, and then moving your way up to 45 seconds, and then a minute. I do this three times a day!”

—Camilla Thompson, well-being coach, Sydney, Australia 

Try the seven-minute workout app

“I always plan at least one break in the morning and in the afternoon to get active, and I use apps like the 7-Minute Workout to get moving and relax. It has helped me move during the day and focus better when I return to my computer.”

—Isabelle Bart, marketing director, Irvine, CA

Use an at-home spin bike

“I keep a routine of indoor-cycling, as I have had a spin bike in my living room for the last few years. A lot of my day time is spent on my laptop with virtual meetings and calls. I try to carve out one hour in the morning when I can do a digital spin class before I start my work. It keeps me grounded, moves my muscles, and relaxes my mind.”

—Camillo Pandolfi, consumer insights director, London, UK

Walk around during meetings

“If I’m on a call that doesn’t require me to use my laptop or webcam, I stand and walk around while I take the call. Similar to walking meetings at the office, taking calls while standing or walking around my home force to take a much-needed screen break. It’s a great way to sneak some additional stretches in throughout the day too!”

—Alyssa Swantkoski, executive assistant, Denver, CO 

Microstep
Make sure you move throughout the day.
For example, walk around your home (or even around the room) while speaking on the phone.

Wear your sneakers 

“I work from home and I have a pair of clean running shoes that I’ll wear each day around the house. For some reason, I’m more likely to go up and down the stairs, and get up to get water more frequently when I have them on.”

—Amanda Holdsworth, PR director, Detroit, MI

Use a bicycle desk

“Years ago, I bought a bike desk. It helps keep me active throughout a day of meetings. It’s the best $200 I ever spent!”

—Amanda DeVlugt, learning professional, Memphis, TN

Take your calls standing up

“I find it helpful, instead of working sitting down in a chair all day, to try to take my calls standing up and waking around the house. I also stretch at least three times a day. It helps generate serotonin and improves my day.”

—Giancarlo Molero, happiness innovator, Miami, FL

Carve out 15-minute trampoline breaks

“I have a small rebounder trampoline at home, which helps me stay active during the day. I put some fun music on and bounce for fifteen minutes. It helps with lymphatic detoxing, builds muscle, and makes you feel awesome.”

—Camilla Thompson, well-being coach, Sydney, Australia 

Try a workout video with your kids

“My daughter, husband, and I work out with weights in the garage and record our time as we compete on the same exercise each week. We also do silly and fun online workout videos, including Richard Simmons and Jane Fonda classics together. Our 13-year-old daughter was mystified when she discovered leg warmers!”

—Eve Mayer, author and consultant, Carrollton, TX

Do a quick jump rope workout

“I work from home a lot, so this is familiar territory for me. One tip I love when it comes to staying active while maintaining social distancing is getting a skipping rope, and doing bursts of skips, either 20 at a time, 50, or 100. Then, do some lunges to recover, and stretch. Repeat three times, and you’ve got yourself a great at-home workout!”

—Pollyanna Lenkic, executive coach, Melbourne, Australia

Working From Home in the New Normal is a data-driven storytelling initiative from SAP and Thrive Global, bringing together insights powered by the Qualtrics Remote Work Pulse with actionable Microsteps and stories from Thrive to help you navigate working from home. Visit daily for the latest data and stories to help improve your focus, prioritization, and well-being. 

Do you have a go-to tip that helps you stay active while you work from home? Share it with us in the comments!

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