Working from home isn’t a new concept, but thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, the WFH lifestyle is the “new normal” for many people.
And part of that reality involves figuring out ways to stay active at home beyond just walking to and from the bathroom or kitchen.
Without the small movements you did when you worked in an office — like walking to and from meetings or trekking to lunch with coworkers — it’s important to make sure you’re getting enough daily movement in addition to your planned workouts.
Small movements throughout the day contribute to your non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT), which is the energy you burn outside of exercising.
This contributes to your daily calorie burn, says Tom Holland, C.S.C.S., exercise physiologist and author of The Micro Workout Plan.
These unstructured movements are important because you can’t rely solely on your daily workout to cancel out the negative effects of a desk-bound lifestyle.
“The longer we stay seated, the more time we’re spending not using the large muscles of our body,” says clinical exercise physiologist Jack McNamara, C.S.C.S., a tutor with TRAINFITNESS.
Bottom line — if you want to stay healthy while working from home, regular activity is a must. Here are 26 creative ways to get moving.
1. Wake up and stretch
Start your day right — roll out of bed and do some side bends, arm circles, and toe touches. Do these five morning stretches to set the tone for your day.
Don’t want to get out of bed just yet? Just sit up in bed and do these 5 yoga poses for tight hips.
2. Start every hour with movement
Keep the movement going by starting every hour with something active. Do 25 jumping jacks at the top of every hour.
Set alarms on your phone or smartwatch if needed to keep yourself accountable.
3. Walk your “commute”
If you’re working from home now instead of commuting to work, use that time before and after work to take a long walk or run errands that are close by.
4. Drink up
Keep a glass of water on your desk and get up to refill it every time you run out.
Bonus: The more water you drink, the more often you’ll have to walk to the bathroom!
5. Make phone calls active
Instead of sitting and chatting on the phone, take a walk around the house, knock out a set of bodyweight squats, or do leg stretches.
Keep your hands free and use wireless earbuds or headphones for your call so you can do a few sets of dumbbell curls.
Or challenge yourself to a wall sit for the duration of your call.
6. Walk during your lunch hour
Make it a habit to take a lap around the block before or (and!) after sitting down to lunch.
7. Move your meetings
If any of your coworkers are local, take your meeting outdoors and walk a few laps around your office building.
8. Move before and after meetings
If you can’t do a walking meeting, do a set of 10 push-ups (or one of these push-up alternatives) before you log on to a Zoom meeting, and another set after you log off.
Or try these lower-back and hip stretches to work the kinks out after sitting through a long meeting.
9. Do some desk stretches
Feeling stiff after spending the day hunched over your laptop? Try some of these stretches designed to combat hours of sitting.
10. Park far away
Running errands? Pick a spot in the back of the lot so you can rack up extra steps.
If you’re in a parking structure, park on the top level so you can get some stair work in.
11. Move during commercial breaks
With all the streaming services available, it’s easier than ever to avoid traditional commercial breaks and watch a whole episode (or you know, season) without moving.
Break up your binge-watching session every 20 minutes or so with a break of your own.
Get up and march in place, walk up and down the stairs, or dance around the room with your kids for five minutes.
Or turn it into a family challenge — see who can rack up the most push-ups, sit-ups, or jumping jacks during each commercial break.
12. Play with your pets
Take a break from work or chores and spend five minutes throwing a ball or stick for your dog to fetch, or tossing your cat’s favorite toy around the house for them to chase.
Or make your four-legged friend extra happy by taking your pet on multiple quick walks around the neighborhood instead of parking yourself in front of the TV or computer.
Bonus: Studies show that having a pet may help lower stress and ease anxiety.
13. De-stress with yoga
If you’re not into high-intensity workouts, unroll your yoga mat and de-stress with a streaming yoga class.
14. Take the stairs whenever you can
See Tip #10: Once you’ve parked your car on the top level, do an extra lap or two up and down the stairs if you have time for a quick burst of cardio.
15. Get a treadmill or cycling desk
Typing while walking or pedaling may feel weird at first, but it’s a great way to sneak in some movement when you can’t get away from your computer.
16. Set up a step challenge
Recruit friends, family, or coworkers. The friendly competition will inspire you to find unique ways to get your steps in!
17. Take a dance break
Dancing is fun and burns plenty of calories.
If you have two left feet, Shaun T can help you find your rhythm with his dance workout LET’S GET UP!
His fun dance workouts feature easy-to-follow cardio dance sequences, bodyweight resistance training, and even some INSANITY-based moves set to music.
18. Take more trips when unloading groceries
Instead of trying to break the world record of most grocery bags carried in one trip, make a point of grabbing one or two at a time so you take as many trips back and forth to the car as possible.
19. Join in your kids’ playtime
Go for a bike ride, practice hula hooping, learn a new jump rope trick, or play a game of tag.
20. Do mini-chores
Break up your list of housework into mini-chores.
Instead of trying to clean the whole house in one go, do a series of small clean-up jobs over the course of your day or week: vacuum the living room, empty the dishwasher, do one load of laundry, or clean the toilets.
21. Take up an outdoor hobby
Gardening and hiking are great ways to get moving and connect with nature.
Studies show that there are numerous benefits to being outside, like boosting your mood and reducing stress.
22. Skip the drive-thru
It can be hard to resist the convenience of the drive-thru window or curbside pickup.
The next time you grab takeout, park your car and walk inside to order instead.
23. Use the farthest bathroom
You’ve probably heard this tip for staying active at the office — but you can use it at home, too!
If your WFH space is downstairs, for example, use the upstairs bathroom when you’ve gotta go.
24. Squeeze in a quick workout
Got five minutes between meetings? Try these 11 feel-good stretching stretches.
She’ll lead you through a total-body sweat session in just 20 minutes!
25. Stay active after hours
If you spend your workdays at a desk, make your evenings as active as possible.
As soon as you get home or sign off your computer, reset by taking a long walk around the neighborhood with your family or take your pooch for a trip to the park.
Or do a live streaming workout on BODi with your favorite Beachbody instructor.
26. Stretch before bed
A bedtime stretch session not only helps with mobility but is also a great way to calm your mind before you fall asleep.
Learn more about the MYX Home Studio.