Staying in shape while working from home

Try these home workout ideas to stay active and focused while working remotely.

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Physical activity plays a vital role in maintaining physical and mental health. Developing and sticking to a workout routine helps maintain a strong immune system, and is known to boost your mood, helping disrupt the sedentary, screen-oriented lifestyle many of us are accustomed to. As part of a regular daily routine, a good workout can also help structure your workday by providing a mental break from the office and helping you get back into a productive, focused state.

But what happens when going to a gym isn’t possible? Even when your options for physical activity are a little more limited than usual, there are still plenty of ways to move your body and get your endorphins flowing.

Get outside

If you can, try to leave your home office for a little bit each day by taking a short walk, run, or a bike ride. If you don't have easy access to a public park or open outdoor area, try sticking to a home workout routine in your backyard, or on your porch. Something as simple as a stroll around your neighborhood can be helpful.

Working out at home

Already have workout equipment in your home? Lucky you! Now is the perfect time to break that out. If you’re new to the home workout scene, start by setting up a dedicated space that’s separate from where you work or sleep, if possible. The process of changing into workout clothes, going into a separate room, and setting a mood can help get you motivated. Don’t have fitness equipment? Don’t worry! A number of fitness routines don’t require a mat, a bike, or dumbbells. Just clear some room to move around.

Finding a routine

According to WebMD, there are five parts to an effective fitness program, and all of them can be done from the convenience of home. They are:

  • Warmup
  • Cardiovascular (aerobic) workout
  • Strength-building exercises
  • Flexibility moves
  • Cooldown

The recommended practice is 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise at least three times a week, and 20-30 minutes of strength work three times a week. Some good warmup stretches can help work the muscles that are tightened from long periods of sitting.

Finding a guided workout can let you know what exercises work well for each part of your routine. Check out these resources for ideas on where to find great home workout routines and suggestions:

From yoga to CrossFit: the 10 best online home workouts (The Guardian)

Five free workouts you can do at home during the coronavirus shutdown (The Boston Globe)

The Healthiest Way to Sweat Out a Pandemic (The Atlantic)

Stay motivated

If you’re working from home, you may have fewer incentives to get up than exist in your typical office setup — you aren’t walking to the printer or the coffee machine or a meeting, and you’re less likely to have items like a standing desk or ergonomic chair that help your posture. Being more sedentary than usual can make you feel the burn more than you expect to. Try to stick with it! Find ways to stay accountable to get motivated, like checking in with a friend or using a smartwatch to track your activity. Working out early in the day may help, too, as morning exercisers are more likely to stick to their routine long-term.

However you choose to stay in shape while working from home, there are many ways to help you find a routine that works for you, and just as many reasons to stick with it.

Want to learn more about the science behind exercise? The KU Edwards Campus offers an online undergraduate certificate in strength and conditioning. If you’re looking for additional ways to stay active while working remotely, you can also check out our blog on working out at work.

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