If you work from home or set your own schedule, you’ll have more opportunities to walk during the day but also more temptations to be sedentary and not get active at all. Office workers need to commute to work, walk around the office, get lunch and other factors that can add up to a few thousand steps a day. People who work at home often find themselves sitting more and moving less. A study found that people who worked from home worked longer hours, while also taking shorter breaks, running fewer errands, and taking fewer sick days. While the increase in productivity may be good for your work and your paycheck, it may not be so great for your health and waistline.
Just because you work from home doesn’t mean you can’t find ways to continue to be active and hit 10,000 steps (or whatever your step goal is). These tips are also great for anyone who works at a sedentary job, but has the ability to set their own schedule and take walking breaks.
Read on the treadmill (or walking!)
A great way to get active while being productive is to incorporate a treadmill or walking desk. While this can be a fairly large one-time expense, it allows you to get active while working whenever you want to. Many minor tasks, like checking email, responding to messages, or reading reports can be done while you’re getting active with little dropoff in productivity. Studies have also shown that walking helps you get more creative and energetic, so a walking desk may actually make you more productive than ever.
Sitting for long periods of time can be dangerous to your health, so try to get up periodically and walk around. You can break this up throughout the day. Spend 15 minutes in the morning walking on the treadmill while you check emails, then another 15 after lunch while you read a report, and another 15 before dinner while you check emails again. That gives you a full 45-minute workout, with no loss of productivity or extra effort on your part.
Don’t have a treadmill? No problem! You can always pace slowly back and forth around your living room, or even walk in place. Just standing up can be beneficial from a health standpoint rather than simply sitting in the same position all day long. Something is better than nothing!
Short walks are your friend
While you may not have access to a large office building to walk in, you have the benefit of setting your own schedule and being able to take breaks whenever you need to. Take short walks throughout the day to break up your work and help clear your mind of distractions. Even 5 minutes of walking adds up over time, so look for chances to get out and walk. Being able to step outside your house and walk in a natural setting with fresh air can make a big difference.
If you’re a more experienced walker, try to work in short, fitness walking workouts that can maximize your calories burned and steps in a short period of time. Both short, intense walks and long, slow walks can work well for fitness. Since you don’t have to worry about wearing a suit, you can dress comfortably and step and go when you’re ready.
Use the 50/10 Rule to Your Advantage
Have you heard of the 50/10 rule? This productivity rule posits that you will be most productive if you spend 50 minutes of each hour working, then the last 10 minutes of the hour doing something outside of work that makes you happy. Many people find that using this rule makes them much more productive, efficient, and happy in their work.
While most people end up using that 10-minute break to check social media, watch TV or other non-productive tasks, you can use this time for a quick walk. If you work an eight-hour day, spending 10 minutes of each hour walking will give you almost an hour and a half of walking that you might not otherwise get. And because you’re only walking 10 minutes every hour, your walking will feel more effortless.
Get Moving When You’re Stuck
Sometimes you just get stumped on a project. You reach a point where you can’t figure out how to move forward. You might feel unable to focus, or you’re distracted by something that’s making it hard to work. When this happens, it’s good to take some time to clear your mind and let a solution come to you.
Instead of trying to force an answer, or beating yourself up for not being able to concentrate, try taking a walk instead. Grab a cup of coffee, take in some fresh air, and get a new perspective.
A Stanford study has shown that walking helps improve creative thinking, and others have shown it can also improve focus. Many people claim that they do their best thinking when they’re walking. The best part of this is that it doesn’t matter if you walk outside or on a treadmill.
Whether you’re looking for a creative solution to a problem or simply can’t concentrate, taking a short walking break can help. The Stanford study’s subjects had positive effects with just 5-16 minutes of walking, so you don’t need much. But once you start, you’ll likely find that you don’t want to stop right away.
Pace While Phoning
If you have to make a call, do the call walking! This won’t work for video calls, but if you’re on a regular phone call, get up and start moving. Pace a straight line between your TV and your chair, or walk in circles around your dining room table. If you don’t need your computer or extensive notes in front of you, take the call outside!
For short calls, or calls where you may need to consult notes, try walking laps around the outside of the house, or up and down the driveway. You’ll increase your step count and be active, and the person on the other end of the call will likely never even realize you’re doing it. Depending on the length of your phone calls, this could get you anywhere from 5 minutes to a few hours of walking in your day.
For longer calls, or calls where you’ll be spending a lot of time just listening, you might even be able to take a longer walk! Just remember that the other party will likely be able to hear the sounds around you. You can let them know you’re working outside that day, or you can try switching to mute when you’re not talking.
Finding opportunities to walk when your work keeps you fairly sedentary might seem difficult. But if you take a walk and get your creative juices flowing, you’ll end up finding lots of little opportunities throughout the day that build up to big changes.
Working from home means that you can probably set your own schedule and take walking breaks when you need to, but it also means that you lose out on a lot of the forced walking that office workers need to do. By getting active when possible, incorporating walking breaks, and using walks as creativity boosts you can get more steps and stay healthy!
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