Congratulations! You have finally escaped the cube farm and negotiated a work from home schedule. You imagine sleeping in a little later, trading high heels and skirts for sneakers and sweats and saving a ton of money skipping Starbucks runs in favor of making a delicious matcha latte at home.
Working from home can help with work/life balance and put some money back in your bank account but there are also drawbacks. According to a 2012 US Bureau of Labor Statistics study, telecommuting may actually cause your boss to have higher expectations about your ability to work MORE hours, including nights and weekends.
Your own expectations about what you can do with this newfound freedom may also be slightly askew. If your job required hours of sitting before, don’t expect that to change because the treadmill is now in the next room. You may find yourself moving less because you aren’t visiting co-workers at their desks or climbing a few flights of stairs on your way to your next meeting.
Working from home requires setting some clear boundaries about not only your office hours but also meal and activity breaks. Use these tips to help you stay fit while working from home.
Become a morning exerciser. Take back the time from your morning commute to get in a workout instead of sleeping in. Create an inexpensive home gym and a dedicated space to work out. One of my favorite home workout tools is the kettlebell. If you aren’t familiar with how to swing a kettlebell check out Kettlebells for Dummies or this kettlebell tutorial from Dailyburn to help you learn proper technique. Unless you have to Skype into meetings with clients, you can also put off your shower till mid morning or lunch if necessary.
Keep healthy snacks in your desk drawer. You may get stuck on conference calls more than you expected. Having almonds, protein bars and dry roasted edamame at arms reach may stop you from running to the cookie jar at the end of the day. While sitting at your desk doesn’t burn as many calories as someone who stands or walks on the job, the brain does require a constant flow of fuel. According to Scientific American, the brain requires a huge amount of energy relative to its size. Up to 20% of our resting metabolic rate comes from brain activity! Unlike your muscles, the brain can’t store fuel in the form of glucose. It needs a steady supply of glucose in the blood stream to function optimally. Try not to go more than four hours without a meal or a small protein/smart carb snack.
Set a timer to get up and move every hour. Researchers now believe NEAT is the biggest factor in not only health but weight maintenance. Set an alarm on your phone or try an app like StandApp to help you remember to take activity breaks. Standing up every chance you get or stretching in your chair can make a big difference to your body and mind.
Take a lunch hour (or half hour). You will be tempted to stay at your desk to eat, just like you did at the office. Instead set a reoccurring meeting on your calendar with yourself to have lunch and take a quick walk or yoga break. It’s also important to have lunch with your co-workers on occasion too. Working remotely can make you feel disconnected and perhaps even out of the loop on big projects and decisions. Face-to-face time with your co-workers helps you feel like you are still part of the team (and keeps you up to date on the latest office gossip).
It takes time to form a new routine, so don’t be too hard on yourself as you form new habits. Celebrate the successes and learn what works (and what doesn’t) for YOU. Just remember, you’re working from home but you are still WORKING. Set aside the money you saved on coffee and dry cleaning to take a well-deserved vacation!
If you’re living the dream and working from a home office, what’s your favorite fitness tip?