DEAR MAYO CLINIC: I’ve been working from home for months. I want to be more active, especially because my job often requires me to sit at my desk for long periods of time. Are there easy ways for me to add fitness to my home routine?
ANSWER: Sitting at a desk all day can be harder than it sounds. Sitting in one position for long periods of time puts a lot of strain on the body and can make you feel stiff, sore, and tired.
An easy way to break this cycle is to get up about every half hour to exercise. This could mean just getting up and going to the kitchen to have some water. Or if you have stairs at home, walk up and down a few times to get exercise.
You can also stand and stretch while making a Zoom call. If you don’t need to be on video all the time, put on headphones and walk around your house during a conference call.
A little movement and stretching throughout the day can help you stay alert and focused. Consider these basic stretches that can be done as often or as little as you want, from the comfort of your home work area:
Neck extensions: For neck extensions, bring your chin up to your chest and hold it down for 15 to 30 seconds. Turn your head left and then right and hold for 15 to 30 seconds on each side. Finally, tilt your head to one side and lean your ear against your shoulder – again for 15 to 30 seconds on each side.
Standing stretches: While standing, place one hand on a nearby desk or chair to stabilize yourself. Bend one leg, grab your ankle, and pull it toward your buttocks. Hold this position for 15 to 30 seconds, then repeat on the other side. Next, stand in front of your chest with your feet hip-width apart and your arms folded. Rotate left, then right, and press and hold for 30 seconds on each side.
Sitting stretches: While sitting, bring one of your knees towards your chest. Grasp the back of the thigh with your hands and pull it towards you. Keep your back straight and be careful not to lean forward. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds. Relax, come back to the starting position, and repeat the stretch on the other leg.
Forearm Stretches: Raise one of your arms and hold it in front of you, palm down. Bend your hand down and gently pull it toward you with the other hand. Repeat with your other arm.
Be creative if you want to add more activity. If you are active at home, there is no need to invest in large exercise equipment. Consider these five inexpensive home fitness equipment:
Jump rope: The jump rope makes your heart beat faster and offers great cardio workout. Training with a skipping rope requires little space and can be performed by people of any fitness level.
Yoga mat: A yoga mat is good for more than just yoga. Mats can protect your back and joints from hard surfaces during exercise. A variety of different buttock and core workouts, as well as stretching, can be performed with one mat.
Dumbbells or dumbbells: For extra strength, dumbbells can be a plus. Choose from a variety of sizes – from 2 to 20 pounds – to help prepare for a challenge. Depending on the style, these weights or dumbbells can be kept under a bed or in a closet. Kettlebells are also becoming increasingly popular. Grab one and make it through a commercial break while you watch TV or use it in the morning to wake you up.
Resistance Bands: Using resistance bands can improve your strength and muscle tone. These ribbons come in a variety of sizes and styles, take up little space and can be taken with you on vacation.
Stability Ball: A stability ball is a useful exercise tool that you can use to strengthen your core. In addition to using a stability ball for abdominal and core exercises, you can also use it as a chair at your desk. Over time, stronger back and abs can improve your balance and stability. Make sure you get a ball big enough for your size. If you’re between 5 feet, 1 inch and 5 feet, 7 inches, a 55-centimeter ball is a good choice. If you’re between 5 feet, 8 inches and 6 feet, 1 inch, try a 65-centimeter ball. If you’re 6 feet, 2 inches, or taller, try a 75-centimeter ball.
While working from home has now become your norm, exercising can seem difficult. Try stretches and inexpensive exercise equipment to improve your health and fitness from the comfort of your own home.