So you thought COVID-19 was going to be a moment in time? We now realize we’re in it for the long haul and will be battling this pandemic well into 2021 and possibly beyond. Fortunately, many of us are able to work from home. You might enjoy hanging out with your dog and family, not putting pants on, and getting chores done. But, working from home does not come without consequences. The weird office corner we set up at home worked for the short term but may be problematic in the long term.

Our regular commute to work, whether you drive a car and walk the length of a parking deck, ride public transit, bike or walk to work used to make up the bulk of our daily activity. Now our commutes entail a few shuffle steps from the bedroom to a desk or the couch.  We may have back-to-back video conferences with little time in between for a stretch. We aren’t moving around the office to get snacks, use the restroom, go to meetings or catch up with coworkers. Working from home is much more sedentary than our office life was.

Here are some tips on how to battle a sedentary lifestyle while working from home.

Use your commute time wisely.
If you used to commute 45 minutes each way, that’s an hour and a half per day. Consider getting up at the same time you used to instead of sleeping in, and use your old commute time to exercise. You can even lump your commute time together for an hour and a half block of exercise.

Don’t skip your lunch.
Make sure you are getting away from your work and refreshing your mind. Walk the dog, take a solo walk around the block or play with the kids.

Exercise between meetings.
Consider doing 25 bodyweight squats before each meeting. You may get in 100 squats or more by the end of the day. It will increase your blood flow and wake you up before the meeting. 

Change positions throughout the day.
Take a walking work call. Sit in the sun for a while. Have fun with it!

Make a schedule.
Schedule in your work start and stop times and schedule your workouts in. Stick to your schedule. 

Set up different parts of your home for work and working out.
When you are in the right physical space, being in the right mental space to perform the tasks designed for that space becomes easier.

Re-evaluate your work setup at home.
Working from home happened so fast we didn’t have time to adjust. You may be carrying your laptop around your home looking for the best place to work. It may have worked for a while, but aches and pains start to creep up. It may be a good time to re-evaluate your work setup at home. 

Stay away from working on the couch.
There is not one couch set up that will work over a long period of time.

Invest in a proper work station.
Ask if your company will reimburse you for office equipment, including a proper desk, desk chair, keyboard and computer screens. Your company may let you borrow your desk and desk chair from work.

Evaluate your ergonomics.
If you have an ergonomic department at work, see if you can do a video visit to have an ergonomic evaluation at home. You can also ask your physical therapist for a home ergonomic evaluation. 

Feel Your Best When Working From Home

A Simple Ergonomic Guide From The Bottom Up

Have your feet on the floor or resting on a stool. Keep hips, knees, and ankles at about 90-degree angles. 

Sit back in your chair, so it is supported. If your chair is too deep, try putting a bed pillow upright behind your back for extra support. 

Relax your shoulders by your sides or support them on armrests. Just make sure your shoulders aren’t raised or elevated. 

Keep elbows bent and relaxed, and wrists straight and relaxed. Avoid too much bend of your wrist in either direction, up or down, and in or out. 

It’s difficult to get a laptop at the right height for your keyboard and your screen. You may opt for a stand-alone keyboard or computer screen. Ideally, you want the top of the computer screen at eye level, so you will be looking slightly down. Your eyes will adjust

Try not to let your head and shoulders drift too far forward.

Be creative with the furniture and resources you do have. 

The bottom line: Just like us, one size does not fit all. Do what’s comfortable. But if your position is causing problems, try changing it. The goal is not perfect posture 100% of the day, just try for better posture more than 50% of the time. 

Stay safe and stay well while working from home.

By Dr. Laurel Mines