Back in 2018 we asked our staff what tips they had for how to get to your desk and back in an hour and shared it in our blog. Many of those tips still apply. However, now with many of us still working from home, we may find our desks and “gym” under one roof, maybe even the same room! Somehow the closer proximity hasn’t made it any easier to fit in a workout. In fact, we may have more obstacles and distractions keeping us from a regular exercise routine. We decided to ask the experts again, what tips they had for ensuring that they fit in a workout from start to finish in less than an hour.
1. Have a Plan.
This tip continues to come in at the top of the list. Physical activity, whether a longer exercise bout or a short movement break rarely happens without planning.
"Lay out workout clothes the night before, says RFC Program Coordinator, AngieFernandez. She also reminds us to, “check the weather to determine if your workout needs to be inside or outside”.
Carli offers “I keep weights, a yoga mat, and water in my office so they are easily accessible for a quick stretch or strengthening video.”
RFC Office Administrator Carli McCaffrey also says she takes advantage of many of the 10 minute workout videos made available by the RFC Instructors and Trainers. You can find them on the RFC Newsletter under the Fitness and Wellness pages.
2. Consistency can help create a habit.
If you regularly scheduled exercise during a lunch break when working at the office, working from home should be no different. Same is true of morning or after work routines. Many people find they are more successful with exercise if they have a consistent time of day to workout. Following a set workout routine can also help take some of the guess work out of what to do. As you plan your week (see tip #1), put your workout in your calendar and indicate the workout type – cardio, arm day, yoga, etc.
“Creating a routine helps ensure I exercise” says Sr. RFC Program Coordinator Jenn Strobel. “I walk my dog every morning and every evening. First thing in the morning when I wake up she is jumping all over me until I put on her harness and grab her leash for a car ride to walk east campus Duke. Then in the evening, she stands at the door until I take her for our very little .5 mile walk after dinner.”
“Having a water bottle, towel, and weights set aside is part of my pre-exercise routine.” ~Peter Donlon, Associate RFC Program Coordinator
“I have gotten into a routine of waking up to a 10-minute stretch/yoga video with a quick arm workout mid-day and a walk or hike after work.” ~Carli McCaffrey
Kasey Joiner, Sr. Associate RFC Program Coordinator says, “If I don’t make it up early, I have to put an hour of movement in my schedule somewhere during the day. Scheduling it just as I would any other meeting holds me more accountable.”
Habits are also easier to establish if you have a trigger. Cameron Gatlin, Sr. Associate RFC Program Coordinator, describes this perfectly with his fitness tip: “Every time I use the bathroom = 5 pullups. After so many emails, it’s 10 push ups.” Remember that you can substitute whatever exercises you prefer or those that match your goals – 5 jumping jacks, 2 sun salutations, 10 squats, 10 back extensions – the possibilities are endless!
3. Make exercise time family time.
Although kids and pets may contribute to the chaos of working from home, they seem to make great workout partners! Taking the kids on a walk or bike ride, throwing or kicking a soccer ball is a great way to get some of those wiggles out! Family members including pets can be great accountability partners helping you ensure you’re sticking to a routine.
“Our entire family enjoys walking around our neighborhood together each evening. This includes pushing our son in his car, while he occasionally jumps out to place sticks in the hood of it or to run ahead of us for part of the walk, our daughter in her stroller which allows her to see the outdoors, and carrying our senior Chihuahua towards the end once he gets tired. It’s one of our favorite family activities.” ~Aaron Daniels, RFC Office Administrator
“As a single mom working from home with a 6 and 8 year old, I have to squeeze in workouts whenever I can. We’ve been using workout time as family bonding time. We enjoy taking walks together, playing basketball, having dance parties, doing TRX together and my kid’s new favorite…me running behind them with the dog as they ride their bikes. ~Dany Losh, Sr. Manager, RFC
4. Something is better than nothing.
As recreation and fitness professionals we say this often and can’t stress this enough - something is better than nothing. As a trainer, I'm often telling clients that what you do or when you do it less important than just doing something! Especially with the added stress of work from home, be gentle with yourself and your expectations around your training routines and fitness level.
Rebecca Allen, RFC Program Coordinator ,says, “I try to incorporate more movement throughout the day. I have a tennis ball and bounce ball in my WFH office. I literally take short walks down the driveway and back sometimes to get some fresh air! It all adds up.”
When I can’t fit in a full workout, I have a “better than nothing plan”. A quick break for lunch or a cup of tea in the afternoon is paired with a set of squats or lunges. Working on emails may include rolling a myofascial release ball under my foot. Waiting for a meeting to start, I'll stand and stretch. Sometimes it’s less than a minute worth of exercise, but I’ll do that as often as possible throughout the day when I can’t set aside time for a longer session.
Amanda Pack, Sr. RFC Program Coordinator, starts each day with a walk. "My morning walk kicks off my day and then whether or not I get to another workout later, I've at least gotten in some physical activity for the day. I also like to squat, lunge, plank, and pace during meetings when I'm not presenting. Everything adds up!"
Working from home presents many challenges but sticking to an exercise routine shouldn’t be one of them. With a little planning, accountability and creativity, your workouts can stay on track and may even include an element of fun and family!