For some, building exercise goals into your work-from-home routine is hard. It’s hard to get motivated and it’s hard to stay motivated. One of the biggest problems with working from home is the sedentary lifestyle and the proximity to the fridge, but the excuse list also gets significantly shorter and opportunities to get your heart health time in, increase. The best way, I’ve found over a couple of decades of work-from-home life, is to schedule it and stick to it. Think of it as a meeting with yourself.
Take the Time to Research and Exercise the Right Way
While the internet can be an enchanting place filled with information and knowledge it can also drag you down dark alleys of misinformation. No matter what you settle on to burn calories and get in shape if you are planning on starting an exercise routine or diet then there is no online stand-in for a baseline doctor’s check-up.
Set a Challenge
Find something that works for you and set up a challenge. I originally had a love-hate relationship with running. It was simple and could be done anytime, anywhere and though I loathed the first five minutes, I loved how I felt when it was all over. Start with a simple and achievable goal, like twenty minutes of walking/ running every day. Commit to doing it for one month. If, like me, you live north of the 49th parallel, and it’s often too cold for outside, invest in a treadmill. Your first week will be tough but by week two you’ll be hooked. Then challenge yourself with higher goals, maybe eliminating the walking part, then increasing your time to twenty-five minutes, thirty. Maybe sign up for a charity run and share a goal with a good cause.
Hit up the gym
If like many, you’ve shifted to work from home during the pandemic, it doesn’t mean the gym has to fall by the wayside. If you are a gym rat then embrace your rattiness. Stick to what works. Maybe your previous office job provided access to its gym which you don’t have anymore. Hunt for one in your neighborhood and sign up before you lose momentum.
One of the great things about the gym is that it has so many options. From martial arts to weight training, swimming pools, aerobic classes, choices, choices everywhere. Attending support staff can provide insights and guidance into programs and what type of exercise would best meet your needs. If they’ve reopened in your area, consider supporting your local gym. Many have taken a hit during the pandemic and would surely appreciate it.
Habits are hard to break, take advantage of that
Make exercise a habit, because habits are hard to break.
One of the advantages of working from home is the elimination of the commute. You can fill that time with a great new habit. Master of your schedule (somewhat) you can exercise whenever you want.
According to an NPR, ‘the key to habit is repetition’ and working out consistently for four weeks is your best bet for forming a habit.
Taking advantage of routine can be beneficial but don’t become bound to it. NPR also suggests that when we miss the time allocated to working out we give up for the day rather than finding another time, missing the day’s work out altogether. A schedule has always been an important part of my workout routine, but I’m not bound to it. Just because I missed my morning run doesn’t mean I get off scot-free for the day.
Instead of picking a time every day when you want to work out, find moments. If you can anchor the idea of exercising to certain events in your day, you’ll find they act as a reminder. For example say you enjoy tea or coffee throughout the day, try and exercise after. Eventually, every time you have a cup of tea you’ll be reminded of exercise. Don’t aim too big to start with, you don’t want to scare yourself off. If you’re not a morning person, then don’t try and wake up at the crack of dawn, that’s a whole other habit, and establishing challenging habits at the same time might be a step too far.
Even if you do exercise every morning, being sedentary for the rest of the day isn’t good for our health. We need to move. Get up and stretch, get your blood flow going, it will help you think clearer and you will be even better at your job.
Find Exercise Goals in the Mundane
Keep your heart rate up by finding exercise in the mundane. Harvard Medical School divided up activities into Cardiometabolic exercise points (CME). They recommend everyone aim for at least 150 CME points per day.
• Climbing the stairs for 10 minutes: 100 CME points
• Pushing the lawnmower for 30 minutes: 200 CME points
• Washing the car by hand for 30 minutes: 100 CME points
• Climbing the stairs for 10 minutes: 100 CME points
During lockdown my daughter simply walked around her apartment, working towards a 5000 step goal, and when that proved too easy she upped the ante to a 10 000 step goal. She listened to podcasts, music and phoned friends and family to keep the boredom at bay. Working from home there is an opportunity to use any time on the phone with co-workers or clients to do the same thing. Stretch every hour, try to work in 5 minutes of high-intensity interval training (HIIT). Sneak in some push-ups or sit-ups in-between tasks.
Walk everywhere, seriously everywhere, and play into your strengths. If you love the outdoors then walk among the trees and the birds, and commune with nature. If you love your urban setting, window shop while you walk, till you drop.
Exercise Goals Can Change Your Lifestyle
There are a lot of fitness and lifestyle fads, and to an extent that’s okay, it can keep things interesting. Explore and have fun. Try kickboxing for two months and then switch to yoga and then biking. The point is to get that heart rate up. Set a routine around time, you work out three times a week, it doesn’t matter the activity just that those three-hour slots are filled. The vice president of 24-hour fitness himself, Kevin Steel, says that we don’t have to go to the gym to get fit, and encourages even his own gym’s members to adopt a fitness lifestyle, “The key thing is that you do something, somewhere, sometime.” And he has a Ph.D. in physiology.
Cautiously Hit the Internet
Classes abound online, led by true professionals. There were quite a few pre-pandemic but now they are everywhere. Hunt for professionals, people with credentials to back up what they put online. And remember, skinny doesn’t always mean healthy, so don’t let that be a barometer by which you measure yourself and your success.
There are also a lot of apps out there, some of which ping if you have been sitting still for long, others that give you great workout routines. Again, watch out for nonsense. There is a lot of it on the internet. No professional with your best interest at heart will offer ways to lose weight in just three days or miracle pills. And short-term fixes won’t help establish routines and habits.