May 11, 2023

One of the big advantages of working from home for all or part of the week is spending less time commuting. In theory that should leave more time for exercise. But the reality for many people is that a change in daily routine breaks those workout habits we’ve spent years creating, and exercise and movement can drop off the radar. Let’s look at how flexible working can make it easier to stay fit.

Take advantage of your flexibility
If you are a creature of habit, you may want to continue to exercise at the beginning or end of your workday, even when you are at home. But flexible work hours can also create space for a more flexible exercise routine. As long as team members are getting through their work and turning up for scheduled online meetings, most workplaces are fairly relaxed about when people start, finish and take breaks.

This can be especially helpful in the winter months, when exercising in the dark, cold mornings or evenings is not very appealing. Try starting work half an hour earlier than you normally would, then heading outside for a walk or a jog mid-morning when the sun comes out. If it starts raining just when you were about to head off, work a bit longer until the showers have passed, then go out for some exercise. It has extra health benefits because you are getting some vitamin D and giving your body a break from sitting at a desk.

Many gyms or leisure centres offer off-peak memberships so if you are able to work out in the middle of a weekday, you will save yourself some money. Off peak golf club memberships can also be significantly cheaper – Golf New Zealand’s She Loves Golf programme is designed give more women an enjoyment of the sport and promote golf as a great way to stay active and socialise at the same time. There are also midweek golf competitions for men that can provide a fun exercise opportunity for flexible workers.

Make it a meeting

Schedule exercise into your diary or Outlook calendar just like you would a meeting or appointment and treat it as a must-do. Even if you have to move your ‘exercise meeting’ around during the day to accommodate your work schedule, commit to spending that time on moving your body. Ultimately, it will make you more productive so it’s time well spent.

Get an exercise buddy

If you find it too easy to work through the time you have set aside for exercise, arrange to workout with a friend or a someone from your professional network. We are much better at honouring commitments we’ve made to other people than those we’ve made to ourselves! If you meet a colleague or professional contact for a walk or a gym class, you’ll be both exercising and downloading information that will be helpful once you are back at your desk.

Dress for success

Put on your exercise gear when you get up. This means you are making a mental commitment to moving your body sometime during the day. Then if the sun comes out or you need a break from writing that report or tricky email, you are ready to go. If you have an important online meeting, you might need to be corporate on your top half and casual on your bottom half but wearing leggings and trainers will remind you to tick off working out on your to do list.

Embrace web workouts

Whether you love yoga, pilates, boot-camp style workouts, dance-based classes or just using your own bodyweight to workout, there will be a YouTube video or an app that you can tap into to exercise at home. Most of the time you don’t need a great deal of equipment, although you may want to invest in some hand weights or resistance bands, and there are usually free or low-cost options for online workouts. Experiment with a few different online trainers or experts to find one you like – Yoga with Adrienne is a favourite with the Te Atatu Toasted team, with a huge library of yoga videos for all levels and to suit all moods. If you normally like going to the gym, Les Mills+ replicates those famous high-energy classes online and offers a free 30-day trial.

Short is sweet

If you feel you can’t get away from your desk for an extended period, aim for three or four 10-minute exercise bursts through the day. It will get your heart rate up, boost your energy and reduce the effects of sitting in front of a computer for long periods.

Revamp your workstation

Consider swapping your office chair for a Swiss ball for a few hours each day. The instability of the ball will mean you are strengthening your core and burning calories while you work. A more long-term investment might be a standing desk for your home office. Working at a standing desk for part of the day improves your posture, gives you an energy burst, burns calories, keeps your circulation going and can help with back pain.

Sneak in extra movement

Walk around when you are talking on the phone or set an alarm every hour to remind you to take five minutes to get up from your workstation. Hang out washing, unload the dishwasher or vacuum the lounge – you can tick off some domestic chores and move your body at the same time. If you have a meeting scheduled that you don’t need to be in front of a screen for, grab your phone, put on your trainers and do it on the move. Combine getting some fresh air with increasing your step count.