Remote working is here to stay and it has brought with it a range of mental and emotional benefits – when it comes to physical health, however, the outlook is less positive. A report by CBS News asserts that personal trainers have found that remote working is breaking down the average fitness level of office workers – which was already at a relatively low level. Working at a computer and being confined to the same space every day runs the risk of creating serious long-term health problems, many of which start with injuries resulting from poor ergonomics.
Ergonomics are at the source of many of the health problems that office workers face and CNBC has tracked an uptick in such illnesses since remote working took off in a big way. Given that workers now spend 1700 hours a year in front of computers, it’s easy to see why poor fitness and common postural problems can lead to long-term damage. Posture is the first place, and adaptations can be put in place. Your desk should be ergonomically arranged to minimize twisting and bending actions, and to keep your neck and spine aligned. Your chair, too, should support this, and your employer should assist where your chair is not fit for purpose.
Associated with office work is the habit of sitting for too long. As Forbes highlights, Americans are now sitting for longer periods than at any point in history and it is, quite literally, killing people. Sitting down too frequently is linked to a range of health problems including heart disease, diabetes, obesity and stroke, and those impacts are only increasing over time. Take regular breaks from sitting down. Set alarms on your phone or use a fitness monitor. You can also look into getting a sitting-standing desk, which you can use to help you retain comfort throughout the day.
Building in exercise
One benefit of remote working is that it has brought in extra time for many workers. Minutes are gained through the day and, in the case of the commute, sometimes hours. That’s a huge opportunity that can be turned towards fitness. A good start can be made by building in general fitness in the day. Do stretches regularly, especially for the muscles impacted by office work, such as the hips, core, neck and shoulders. Then, think about ramping it up – you can either do full home workouts, with bodyweight or calisthenic exercises, or head out and use your spare time to go for a run. If you’re able to work flexibly, you can use the time gained inside the office hours to take time out later and enjoy some outdoor exercise.
Getting outdoors is also another important element of fitness. Being outdoors and enjoying fresh air and exercise can be of huge benefit to you and your overall well being. With good posture, regular standing breaks and good exercise, it can be the final step in building true remote working fitness.
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