Most of the professional world seems to have had a semi-permanent switch over to the working from home (WFH) lifestyle and the effects of this are presenting them in an interesting way in my private personal training gym in Fitzrovia, London.
What I've noticed in clients, old and new, is a dramatic decrease in overall activity throughout the day. Now, for many, the story is wake up at 8:45am ready for your 9am meeting with a cup of coffee wearing your pyjama bottoms and before you know it, it's 1pm and you're in the same position. A quick trip to the kitchen to make yourself lunch and back to your desk to finish the day. The end of the working day comes about and, probably without realising, you've only moved within a 500 sq ft radius and, if you're lucky, clocked up a whopping few thousand steps.
Now let's compare this to how your day used to look: Wake up at 7am and get ready for your commute which involves a short walk to the station, a walk between station changes and a walk to the office from the station. You get to work, climb a few flights of stairs and navigate yourself around a 10,000 sq ft office to get to your desk. Meetings at different parts of the building encourage more movement during the working day before embarking on your journey back home. Sounds to me like a slightly more active day than the WFH example.
So why does that matter...?
One effect I've seen from this is an increase in injuries, most commonly neck, lower back and knees. This could be in part due to having a sub par desk set up at home, in which case I suggest investing in a sit/stand adjustable desk, however I think what plays a larger role in this is the lack of movement throughout the day. The old adage 'motion is lotion' comes to mind, albeit the movement isn't intense exercising or stretching it still makes a massive difference to maintaining joint health.
Another problem we saw during the rise of WFH is an unwanted gain in weight. The stress of everything going on was undoubtedly a huge factor for this but so was the aforementioned loss of movement throughout the day. The difference in calories burned by an individual walking 3,000 steps vs. 10,000 steps could be anywhere between 200-500 calories, which for many is the difference between maintaining their weight and gaining weight.
So what's the solution...?
Quite obviously the solution is 'move more' but I understand this answer lacks practicality so here are some strategies you may look to action to increase your activity throughout the day:
1) The Faux Commute - Just before you start work, go for a 15-30 minute walk and as soon as you finish work go for another 15-30 minute walk. [Be strict with the timing - it must be just before you start work and as soon as you finish work - no putting it off!]
2) The Egg Timer - Set a regular timer to move around for a set period of time.
Example timings: Every 15 minutes move for 3 minutes
Every 30 minutes move for 5 minutes
Every 60 minutes move for 10 minutes
3) The Walking Meeting - Any time you have a meeting use it as an opportunity to get up and walk around. If you can take it on the phone, even better.
4) One Long Walk - Choose a period in the day where you commit to taking a longer walk 35-60 minutes. I recommend either before work or during your lunch period if possible. It's a great way to start the day and could also help with your sleep.
I hope you are somewhat encouraged to take up a little more movement throughout the day if you are WFH (or even if you're at the office). It's benefits go beyond the physical too, having some kind of separation from your work area throughout the day is a great idea and staying cooped up inside isn't. Get outside, move more and feel better.