Tips for working out at home or wherever you are

When you’re done working at home, your commute is likely only 10 steps from your couch and TV; Maybe a quick turn into a snack cupboard. This can be a recipe for disaster, at least when it comes to fitness. Gone are the days of walking around the office on sunny afternoons, meeting up with co-workers, or even walking around the office to chat with your boss. Instead, Zoom meetings blend together, one after the other, and before you know it you haven’t left your workspace, or even stood, for more than a few minutes throughout the day.

You’re not alone: ​​About 30 percent of people who exercised during the pandemic did so at a lower intensity, and the same percentage shortened the duration of their workouts. By comparison, only 9 percent increased their intensity and spent 24 percent more time moving. We’ve probably all been focused on trying to get groceries without getting the virus. We may have had less access to the usual gyms and exercise programs. Perhaps our workout buddies couldn’t do it, which reduced motivation. These are just some of the reasons people working from home may struggle to move, according to Brooke Burke, founder and CEO of Brooke Burke Body, a digital exercise service available from mobile apps and some streaming platforms.

Burke says that getting past these challenges means changing the way you think about health and wellness and using the equipment you already own in an effective period of time. I’ve led puppet classes using kitchen counters, and exercise programs based on sitting in an office chair, but you can use whatever you have on hand. With a little creativity and flexible thinking, you can easily turn the disadvantages of working from home into the advantages.

Rethink your definition of “gym equipment”

In “earlier times,” you might have worked out in an actual gym with large sets of free weights, exercise machines, mats, benches, long mirrors, training machines, and cardio equipment. When you look around your home office and can’t get to most (or any one) of this, you might think you can’t do a real workout at home. Plus, you don’t pay for a work-at-home membership, so the extra motivation to get your money’s worth may be lacking.

[Related: How to keep your home workout space from smelling like a gym]

Burke says water bottles, chairs, kitchen counters, and just about anything else can easily replace free weights, balance bars, and steps. Even the weight of your body and others in the house can stand as lumps of cold metal. “I did the stretching and connecting exercises in the morning, and a little exercise to get up in bed,” she says. “Couples yoga that uses each other’s body weight is really fun for families.”

Break your workout into three actionable sessions

Gone are the days, for many, of those commutes to and from the personal gym, taking one hour of time to exercise. Instead, we have a chance, says Kaitlyn Gannon, personal trainer and owner of Svelte Performance, a strength and conditioning gym in Dallas. We can sneak three 10-minute workouts into our workday from home, adding up to the recommended half hour a day. Filling the 15 minutes between video calls with a five-minute snack or bathroom break and 10 minutes of movement may make you less likely to fall asleep during the next meeting, at least. Gannon recommends choosing three different styles of workouts with each intent of a 10-minute window.

First 10-minute session: Warm-up

Early in your day when you have a 10-minute window, try a warm-up designed to raise your heart rate to half your maximum heart rate (calculated by subtracting your age from 220). This can include gentle floor movements such as yoga, jogging, or corrective exercises, Gannon explains, or you can include some exercise bands (if you don’t have any, you can use your own body weight). If you’re not sure what to do first, try a yoga or stretching app for some bite-sized routines. Even a few simple push-ups can do the trick, Gannon says.

Session Two: 10 Minutes: Full Body Workout

After a few hours, or on your next break, use another 10 minutes to get your blood pumping, working toward 60 or 70 percent of your maximum heart rate, Gannon says. If you have dumbbells, you can break them; If not, you can exchange items like water bottles or bags of potatoes from your pantry.

She explains that this period of time is best spent doing a full-body workout. Try changing your technique from day to day, too: If you’ve been doing an upper-body push-up squat one day, consider doing a lower- or upper-body push-up the next day. Use weights as your resistance or as part of a high-intensity interval training (HIIT), she says. One of the movements she likes is called “Good morning”: put dumbbells on your upper back, or put your hands behind your head with your chest raised, and your feet no closer than your hips. Stand close to a wall and pin your hips back (butt to a wall) to work your glutes and hamstrings. You can add domains if you have them.

Session Three: 10 minutes: Sunshine and Heart

Chances are, in the routine of working from home, that simply going out has slipped your mind or fallen to the end of your priority list behind a dangerously crowded inbox. Whether you’re moving or not, 17 minutes outside a day can improve your health. Combine the two for even more powerful results.

Gannon says we can forget about miles, calories, and trackers, and just head to the sidewalk, and count homes as our metric. “Do three-home sprints…run down, walk backwards, or roll backwards, depending on what your recovery and level are. If you want to do a 100 percent max sprint, you can only do one and a half homes, though. Although these numbers may change depending on the layout of your area.If you want to focus more on distance, choose four or five homes.Walking at a brisk pace can achieve an effect similar to running, depending on your fitness level.No matter what you do,Gannon explains,work on Achieve 80 to 90 percent of your maximum heart rate.

Some tips for incorporating mini sessions

Gannon warns that what you don’t want to do is get back from an all-out sprint to your comfortable seat. Doing so does not allow your muscles to cool down or allow oxygen to flow through your body in the healing process. “You want to get your heart rate back to a resting state and then sit up,” she says. Attend your next meeting while standing or walking, simply by placing your computer on a table and pacing a bit. “Try to stay awake and move around as much as possible, as you would in the office,” she says, explaining that half an hour of exercise plus this extra movement will result in a full hour of exercise at the end.

Burke recommends wearing sweatpants — a work style homeowners already master — and keeping a work shirt nearby to easily change between meetings and workout sessions. Or not, because it would make working life from home a lot more interesting if we periodically saw people doing sprints for three homes in their jackets and pajama pants.

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