A Chiropractors Tips to Help You Stay Healthy and Fit While Working From Home
by Jeff Tomko
Working from home can be quite the adjustment: a shower-optional, cubicle-free zone, where dress codes aren’t enforced and office interaction is reduced to Slack channels and Zoom meetings.
But convenience could come at a cost.——You may notice you’re working longer hours, which could lead to less movement.. The key is to both be proactive and pay attention to the signs your body is giving you, says Dr. Alexandra Duma, a sports chiropractor at New York City wellness center FICS.
“Our bodies are amazing at giving us information,” Dr. Duma says.
Dr. Duma suggests trying the following modifications to keep yourself in check while working from home.
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE EXTRA TIME
The average one-way commute time in the United States is 26 minutes. Working from home, that gives you roughly an hour of extra time each day, which Dr. Duma recommends using to your benefit.
A short 20-minute jog can burn close to 200 calories. If running isn’t your thing, there’s no shortage of fitness options just a click away. You could give a virtual pushup challenge a try, or download an app that fits your fitness preference—from HIIT to yoga. You’ll be surprised by the difference that even a little movement can make when done consistently.
“Just don’t go from zero to 100,” Dr. Duma advises. “It’s probably not wise not to go to extremes and try a handstand pushup right out of the gate.
BRING HOME YOUR OFFICE
Creating an ergonomic home simulation of a traditional office desk area may be critical to a successful work from home environment. , Dr. Duma says.
While kicking your feet up on the kitchen table might make you feel like the boss of your home office, the stress caused by poor posture habits may lead to any number of musculoskeletal issues..
“It’s a domino effect,” Dr. Duma says. “If you let your neck start falling too far forward, it will start affecting your shoulders, then travel to your elbows, then your wrists, lower back, hips, and knees. When one goes, if not taken care of, the rest will follow.”
Dr. Duma suggests investing in a chair that has proper lumbar support (placing a pillow behind your mid-back is a good temporary fix, she says). Your chair should allow your feet to touch the floor, ideally with your hips, knees, and ankles at 90-degree angles. When it comes to your desk, its height should allow your wrists and forearms to be comfortably aligned with your keyboard.
GET UP AND MOVE
Research indicates that working from home could be adding an average of three extra hours to your work day. No matter how ergonomic your setup, more desk time equals more sedentary time.
Dr. Duma suggests getting up and moving at least every 30 minutes, adding that as few as 30 seconds may be helpful to switch up your routine. And, yes, bathroom breaks count. But why not take a quick walk around the block? Or try getting up each time you take a phone call. Every bit of time on your feet may helpin the long run.
“Movement is the most important thing here,” Dr. Duma says. “We were built to move, not to be sitting at a desk working or on the couch watching TV.”
AND WHILE YOU’RE UP, MOVE SOME MORE
By now you may be aware of some of the benefits of stretching, but there’s no better time to take advantage than when you’re working from the comfort of your home.
While Dr. Duma suggests using a foam roller to provide some back support , even some basic neck twists—left-to-right, ear-to-shoulder, up and down—will go a long way..
For your hands and forearms, do wrist circles and opening and closing of your fists throughout the work day to strengthen those overused typing muscles.
For extra credit, Dr. Duma recommends throwing in a few body-weight squats to keep your legs fresh. “Any type of movement is essential,” she says.
STICK TO YOUR ROUTINE
While your no-commute workdays may eliminate the stress of traveling, there are enough distractions at home—longer work hours, keeping the kids occupied, even making dinner—to keep you on edge..
“Because we’re so ‘on, on, on,’ our bodies stay in this state of fight or flight,” Dr. Duma says. “Your body perceives this as a threat.”
Consistency is your ally in staving off stress, Dr. Duma says. If before working from home you were usually calling it a night at 10 p.m. and exercising before work, try to avoid the temptation of a late-night Netflix binge or sleeping in. “Try to maintain as much of the same schedule as possible,” she says.
And while you’re at it, just because you’re passing the refrigerator more often these days, that doesn’t mean you need to visit it more—or make regular snacking a part of your work day.
“It’s probably not wise to begin eating each time you receive an email,” Dr. Duma says.