How To Stay Active When Working From Home

How to stay Active when Working from Home

There are many benefits to being able to work from home but there are also drawbacks, especially when it comes to movement during the day.

When working from home we miss out on the walks to the coffee machine or water cooler or even getting up to go talk to a colleague down the hall. While these may not seem like important components of daily movement, not doing them can have significant impacts on our health and wellness. What may seem like an insignificant walk to the kitchen to make a coffee is an important movement break which helps to decrease sedentary time and provides a short mental break.

The Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology recommends that we break up long periods of sitting throughout the day to optimize health [1]. As well, many studies have shown that implementing hourly movement breaks can decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease and metabolic disorders such as diabetes and hypertension [2] [3].

So, what can we do to stay active during the workday?

The most important thing to do is to take short movement breaks every hour. This can be as simple as walking up and down the stairs a couple of times, doing a 3-5 minute stretching break or taking a walk to the kitchen to refill your water or coffee. These short breaks will not only improve your physical health, but they have also been shown to increase focus and productivity [4] [5]. As well, do not forget to take the same breaks as you would if you were at the office including a full unplugged (from work) lunch break. Some other suggestions for incorporating exercise into your day include scheduling walking phone meetings, doing household chores, gardening, or walking the dog.

And remember, working from home should not be painful or detrimental to your health. If you need help incorporating exercise or working on those tight shoulders from working on your computer in a makeshift office, we can help. Physiotherapy is not just for the injured.

Try my 5-minute stretching routine for a short movement break:

Repeat the following exercises 2 times

  1. Door Chest Stretch (hold for 30 seconds) 
  2. Stair step ups (30 seconds)
  3. Seated hamstrings stretch (30 seconds per leg)
  4. Neck circles (30 seconds)

Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology, “Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for Adults ages 18-64 years: An Integration of Physical Activity, Sedentary Behaviour, and Sleep,” 15 October 2020. [Online]. Available
J. H. Park, J. H. Moon, H. J. Kim, M. H. Kong and Y. H. Oh, “Sedentary Lifestyle: Overview of Updated Evidence of Potential Health Risks,” Korean Journal of Family Medicine, pp. 365-373, 2020.
D. Cooley and S. Pederson, “A Pilot Study of Increasing Nonpurposeful Movement Breaks at Work as a Means of Reducing Prolonged Sitting,” Journal of Environmental and Public Health, vol. 2013, 2013.
K. Perl-Pollard, “Working from home through COVID-19? Take micro-breaks and perform better, UCalgary expert says,” 11 May 2020. [Online]. Available
R. Diamond and E. Byrd, “Standing up for health – improving mental wellbeing during COVID-19 isolation by reducing sedentary behaviour,” Journal of Affective Disorders, vol. 277, pp. 232-234, 2020.