Two Birds, One Home: Working Out and Working Remotely

Don’t let the allure of working from home turn you into a sedimentary creature. While terms like “treadmill desk” have popped up in recent years as floods of people adjusted their careers to work from their houses during the pandemic, don’t let them scare you from actually improving your at-home fitness routine and work life simultaneously. 

The pandemic threw a cork on how many companies manage their employees, and as normalcy begins to slowly creep back into the workplace, many at-home trends are persisting since the original coronavirus outbreak in 2020. Studies conducted by the Pew Research Center in 2022 break down the numbers below: 

  • Roughly six-in-ten U.S. workers who say their jobs can mainly be done from home (59 percent) are working from home all or most of the time. 
  • 83 percent say they were working from home even before the omicron variant started to spread in the United States
  • This marks a decline from October 2020, when 71% of those with jobs that could be done from home were working from home all or most of the time, but it’s still much higher than the 23% who say they teleworked frequently before the coronavirus outbreak. 

Similarly, as many gyms and fitness centers closed their doors for the dog days of the pandemic, many adapted their workout routines to be performed at home. Why not combine the best practices of both together, potentially saving time and improving productivity at the same time? 

Exercising As A Break From Work

When working from home, take 10 to 15 minutes per hour to get up and move around, or do simple exercises to break up the day and relieve yourself from your screen. Do some jumping jacks, pushups, and a mile on the treadmill, or Peloton between meetings. Or take a walk around the neighborhood on your lunch break. Some easy work-from-home exercises include: 

  • Burpees
  • Lunges
  • Push-ups 
  • Planks 
  • Jumping jacks 
  • Squats
  • Overhead press 
  • Yoga

According to the CDC, just 30 minutes of working out per weekday is proven to improve brain health, help manage weight, reduce the risk of disease, strengthen bones and muscles, improve mental health, and boost productivity. Exercise also reduces stress and anxiety in adults, which can provide relief from a busy workday at the home office. Researching your target heart rate can help you achieve your exercise goals through the day.

In contrast, study results have shown that sitting for prolonged periods throughout the day is linked to premature mortality, chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, metabolic syndrome, and obesity. 

Taking breaks from prolonged sitting is associated with beneficial metabolic profiles among adults, suggesting that frequent breaks in sedentary activity may explain lower health risks related to waist circumference, body mass index (BMI), triglyceride levels, and two-hour plasma glucose levels. If you do a few simple exercises during those breaks, the health benefits continue to rise as the potential risks fall. 

Exercising While Working 

If you want to stimulate your mind and body at the same time, there are methods for getting work done while feeling the burn. There are new innovative designs like desk-bikes, treadmill desks, and office-chair friendly ellipticals. 

These machines are designed to improve productivity and save time, knocking out two birds with one stone. However the capacity for burnout is high, and it’s important to not overexert your mind or body. Moderate pedaling or walking during work is recommended over intense workouts between Zoom meetings, or taking periodic breaks throughout the day. But if you’re a true at-home gym rat, there are more hardcore options. 

Don’t Burn Yourself Out 

Burnout and stress rates in the United States are at an all-time high, according to the American Psychological Association. Burnout, as defined by the World Health Organization, is a syndrome resulting from workplace stress that has not been successfully managed, usually broken down into three components: 

  • Energy depletion and exhaustion 
  • Increased mental distance, negativism, or cynicism about one’s job
  • Reduced professional efficacy 

According to APA’s 2021 Work and Well-being Survey of 1,501 U.S. adult workers, 79 percent of employees had experienced work-related stress in the month before the survey. Nearly 3 in 5 employees reported negative impacts of work-related stress, including lack of interest, motivation, or energy (26 percent) and lack of effort at work (19 percent). Meanwhile, 36 percent reported cognitive weariness, 32 percent reported emotional exhaustion, and 44 percent reported physical fatigue — a 38 percent increase since 2019. Of course, certain occupations have higher reported rates of burnout than others, such as teachers and healthcare workers, who were only spread thinner during the pandemic. Those holding jobs in these fields can benefit from moderate breaks of physical exercise if they work from home and can make the time. 

Your home office can be a stressful workplace as well, even if it’s of your own design. Working from home has been linked to unhealthy eating habits, sedentary lifestyle trends, isolation concerns on mental health, and increased feelings of depression and anxiety. 

One can easily get into an unhealthy rut of bad habits in their home office caves. Exercising can provide a much-needed break for workers feeling burnt out, just don’t overexert yourself in an effort to take a break from the computer. 

Everything In Moderation

Finding the right work-from-home, working-out balance can take some experimenting. Find a routine that works well for you. If you enjoy lighter workouts like yoga and walking or pedaling on an e-bike, try mixing your work life and exercise life together using a new workout machine at your desk in your workspace. 

If you prefer more moderate or demanding workouts like running, lifting weights, or getting on an exercise bike, consider taking periodic breaks each hour of work, versus trying to do both at once. 

As more companies continue to transition into hybrid or remote roles for their employees, managing a work-life balance is becoming more complicated. But there are options to break up the monotony, and implementing exercise into your daily work routine might be just the solution to relieve some symptoms of burnout.