Working from home comes with its own set of pros and cons. And staying fit while working from home is a challenge. Setting up a routine and breaking down the plan into feasible goals is all that is required.
Key points to stay fit while you work from home
- Setting up a routine
- Creating a workspace at home
- Healthy eating habits
- Adequate sleep
- Physical activity
- Mental health
- Social interactions
- Positive attitude and empathy
Setting up a routine
- Start your day with a morning routine that includes yoga, jogging, or any physical activity. Make sure you keep aside a few minutes to plan your day.
- Make plans so that you do not mix up work and family time. Focussing on one thing will bring out the best in you.
Creating a workspace at home
- Create a quiet, well-lit workspace.
- A clutter-free desk with minimal things will reduce chaos and help you work effectively.
- Watch your posture while sitting on a chair.
- Adjust the chair to support your back and arm.
- Let your feet lie flat on the floor.
- Maintaining the curve of the lower back (upper lordotic sitting) is one of the optimal position recommended by the physiotherapists.1
- Computer vision syndrome is a group of symptoms that you experience when you sit in front of the computer monitor for a prolonged time in the same position.
- The monitor should be at the level of your eyes.
- Keep the monitor at a distance of 53 to 72 cm from the eyes.2
- Ideal positioning will reduce your neck discomfort.
- Use filters to reduce the screen glare.
- keep your eye moist by blinking frequently.
- Take breaks while viewing the monitor and give your eyes some rest.
- 20-20-20 rule: take a break once every 20 minutes and view things 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
- You may have to change your eyeglasses or contact lenses if you are having discomfort.
- Consult your doctor if the symptoms persist and schedule regular eye examinations.
Healthy eating habits
- Take frequent breaks from work to drink water (10-12 glasses in a day).
- Replace your fries, cookies, and muffins with fruit, nuts, and vegetables.
- Healthy snacks bring down the calorie and has lots of benefits.
- According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only 1 in 10 individuals consume enough fruits and vegetables in a day.
- Fruits and vegetables help to protect you from heart disease, stroke, cancer, and overweight.3
- Practice mindful eating:
- Eat your meals slowly and enjoy the food; stay away from the distractions like television, phone, and so on
- Mindful eating will help digestion and curb overeating.
- Try eating mindfully at least once a day; it will benefit you overall.
- Limit caffeine consumption in your diet:
- Coffee, tea, caffeinated soda, and energy drinks contain caffeine.
- You should avoid replacing drinking plain water with caffeinated drinks.
- Though drinking caffeinated beverages are safe, it can get addictive at times.
- Too much caffeine may lead to insomnia, restlessness, digestive problems, high sugar level, and diuretic effect causing dehydration.4
- Hence consume caffeine in moderation and always wean gradually from the habit.
- Vitamin D:
- You may be lacking the sunshine vitamin; hence, make efforts to get the rays by keeping the windows open or taking a stroll on the balcony.
- Include food rich in vitamin D such as milk, egg yolk, cod liver oil, and fortified grains in your diet.
- Vitamin D is required for the growth and health of your bones; It is vital for the immune system which protects you from infections.
- Adequate sleep has a lot of benefits.
- Sleeping well at the night will help you focus and concentrate better; it affects your judgment and reaction time too.
- Sleep between 7-9 hours is recommended for you, and the duration varies depending on the age.
- According to a study, people having around 7 hours of sleep/night are at a lower risk of developing overweight, hypertension, and diabetes (metabolic syndromes).5.
It includes a spectrum of activities like exercise, household chores, and leisure activities. Physical activities improve the quality of your life. They have immediate and long-term benefits.
Benefits of exercise:
- Regular exercise offers multiple health benefits.
- Exercise plays a significant role in treating obesity, lung disease, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and low back pain.
- Recent studies suggest that exercise reduces your risk of developing long-term (chronic) health conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attacks, and stroke.
- Regular exercise will strengthen your bones and muscles; It helps you manage weight and reduce arthritis.
- According to recent physical activity guidelines, you can attain substantial health benefits by engaging in physical activity for 150 minutes (about 2 and a half hours) a week.
- When you exercise, the body releases endorphins (feel-good hormones). Endorphins boost happiness; hence, reduce stress and calms down your mind. You can sleep better too.
Mental health is as important as physical health; It includes emotional, psychological, and social well-being. Mental health is all about how you handle the highs and lows; make choices and keep calm amidst the chaos.
- Long-term stress and anxiety may increase the risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and inflammatory conditions.
- Studies have shown that yoga reduces the levels of a stress hormone called cortisol (downregulation of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis) in your body; hence, can ease stress and anxiety.
- Yoga also has a beneficial effect on depression. It acts as an antidepressant.6
- Practicing yoga as a routine will calm your nerves and bring peace of mind.
- Pranayama includes breathing exercises. It offers a lot of health benefits both physical and mental.
- Practice yoga for a healthy body and mind.
Nurturing a hobby
- Nurturing a hobby is very satisfying; it is good for your mental health.
- It includes reading a book, gardening, dancing, games, and so on.
- A hobby can lower stress levels and enrich your life.
- Working from home should not limit your social life.
- Spend quality time with your family and friends.
- Make plans with your friends and meet them often.
- Volunteering for a specific cause you believe in will create an opportunity to meet people and add value to your life.
Being positive, grateful, and empathetic will impact your overall well-being.
I am sure most of us are aware of all the steps mentioned to stay fit while working from home, but we still procrastinate. The best way to start is to set small achievable goals and gradually build them up. It is never too late to make positive lifestyle changes. Stay fit, stay happy!
- Korakakis V, O’Sullivan K, O’Sullivan PB, et al. Physiotherapist perceptions of optimal sitting and standing posture. Musculoskelet Sci Pract. 2019;39:24-31. doi:10.1016/j.msksp.2018.11.004
- Rempel D, Willms K, Anshel J, Jaschinski W, Sheedy J. The Effects of Visual Display Distance on Eye Accommodation, Head Posture, and Vision and Neck Symptoms. Hum Factors. 2007;49(5):830-838. doi:10.1518/001872007X230208
- CDC. Steps to Safe and Healthy Fruits & Vegetables. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Published December 10, 2020. Accessed December 15, 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/communication/steps-healthy-fruits-veggies.html
- Reyes CM, Cornelis MC. Caffeine in the Diet: Country-Level Consumption and Guidelines. Nutrients. 2018;10(11). doi:10.3390/nu10111772
- Smiley A, King D, Bidulescu A. The Association between Sleep Duration and Metabolic Syndrome: The NHANES 2013/2014. Nutrients. 2019;11(11). doi:10.3390/nu11112582
- Naveen GH, Varambally S, Thirthalli J, Rao M, Christopher R, Gangadhar BN. Serum cortisol and BDNF in patients with major depression-effect of yoga. Int Rev Psychiatry Abingdon Engl. 2016;28(3):273-278. doi:10.1080/09540261.2016.1175419