A Guest Post by
When you first start working from home, you probably know all of the basic rules. Try not to work in the same room where you sleep; don’t work a 9 to 5 shift. But you also have to remember that your daily commute is no longer there. When you work from home, you might spend the entire day sitting in the same spot, without even the minimal exercise you used to get strolling to the water cooler to catch up on office gossip.
Balancing Work and Life to Stay Healthy Working at Home
Working from home requires a great deal of discipline, and staying healthy is just as important as any other aspect of being a productive “work from homer.” Balancing work and life is much more difficult when you work from home, but it’s not impossible by any means. You probably know that alance doesn’t look like this …
But it still takes only a small effort every day to keep you healthy, lean, and productive.
Take Frequent Breaks
It’s an unfortunate fact that sitting is actually killing us. According to an infographic called “Sitting is Killing You”, the adverse health effects of sitting for any amount of time are numerous:
- Electrical activity in your legs stops.
- Your calorie burning drops to about one every minute.
- After about two hours, your good cholesterol drops by 20%.
While it might not be possible to start working on a treadmill, you can certainly lessen the adverse health effects of sitting by getting up and taking a break every 30 to 60 minutes. I normally wait to clean, do laundry, and do the dishes until my normal work day. Then, I have something mildly physical to get up and do every hour or so.
Set a Time for Exercise Every Day
One of the great ways you can save time and stay healthy when working from home is to use your normal lunch period for exercise, and eat while doing some light work (like writing emails or doing research for an article). But joining a gym can mean a time intensive commute in the middle of the day, and that’s what you were trying to avoid by working from home in the first place. Instead, consider checking reviews of elliptical machines to see if there’s a machine that fits both your space and your budget.
Some people like putting the exercise machine right in the space they use for their office – which can work for some people as long as it’s not too distracting during the day. If you’ve never been the exercising type, try taking a short walk during your lunch to get blood flowing back to your legs, and keep a lifestyle more similar to your old office commute. Try sticking to this walking plan for at least a month before investing in a machine. While paying several hundred dollars for an exercise machine might seem exciting, it’s best to make sure that you’ll stick to the exercise plan before making the investment.
Exercise Helps More Than Your Waistline
A study performed by the American Psychological Association found that increased physical activity in people ages 15 to 71 had a direct correlation to improved focus and cognitive function. Based on this study, exercising makes it easier to focus in a distracting environment, multi-task, and focus on a single task for a longer period of time. This same study also found that exercising helped lower the risk of dementia in older participants, even if they didn’t start exercising until later in their life. In effect, exercise slows the aging of the brain, helping you work just as many hours at 50 as you did at 25.
You don’t need to set aside three hours of intense exercise every day to stay healthy when working from home. Instead, it takes a small, consistent effort to stay healthy and focused. If you have a dog, walking it every day is perfect for the type of exercise you need. If you live in a well populated area, you can even walk to a lunch spot (rather than taking the car) to get a bit of exercise during your lunch hour. And, of course, simply cleaning the house during break periods throughout the day is much better than doing nothing.
Plan Your Meals and Eat Healthy Foods
It might sound like a no-brainer, but it’s very easy to just grab a quick snack when you work from home. Nobody is around to ask if all you’re having for lunch is a bag of potato chips and a candy bar, and it seems to be the best strategy when you have a tight deadline to meet. However, unhealthy snacking is one of the biggest threats to people that work from home – because it’s so easy to do.
Really focus on what you eat for lunch every day. While it might seem like a good idea to grab a snack bar and keep working through lunch, this can be harmful to your body in several ways:
- By supplying you with empty, sugary calories.
- By keeping you sedentary for yet another hour of the day.
There’s nothing wrong with taking an hour to make a healthy lunch during the day. In fact, if you can’t spare an hour to get up, stretch, and enjoy a healthy meal, you might need to reevaluate your productivity and finds ways that you might be wasting time during the day.
While not being able to slide into your favorite jeans anymore is a fairly obvious sign that your work from home lifestyle might need a bit of tweaking, the more subtle signs can often be just as dangerous. Staring at a computer screen for hours every day, sitting in the same chair, and drinking caffeinated, sugary drinks are all activities that increase your chances for heart disease, diabetes, and a host of other adverse health conditions. But simply eating a healthier lunch, taking frequent breaks (at least once an hour), and resting your eyes by looking away from the computer screen once every 20 minutes are all it takes to offset the ill health effects of working from home, and properly balance work and life.
Rachel Carlson is a writer and student that works from home. While she spends a lot of her time writing, she also helps different companies like Clear Wireless with gaining exposure through various blogs and websites. She has recently started a new Twitter account and is finally going to give it a real shot. She can be followed at @carlson_rachel.
Thanks, Rachel. I think that guy in the picture used to work for me.
–ME “Liz” Strauss
Work with Liz on your business!!