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Stay active whilst working from home

Let’s be honest, it can feel like a struggle to keep active whilst working from home. Robyn Warburton, our Smarter Choices, Smarter Places Development Officer, offers some advice on how to build physical activity into your daily routine.

Published: 03/11/2020

Often, physical activity starts to become less appealing at this time of year. The daylight hours are dwindling, and the temperatures are dropping. In addition to this, many of us are adapting to our new home working environments and might be finding that our general day-to-day activity levels have lessened as a result. This calls for a certain degree of creativity to help us remain physically active whilst working from home, particularly as we enter the winter months.

Regular physical activity plays an important role in helping to boost our mood, reduce stress levels and lower the risk of developing many long-term conditions such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. So, it is important that we move regularly throughout the day to lead healthier and happier lives.

Here are some ideas and tips you can do to keep those activity and motivation levels up.

Schedule, plan, prepare 

Block out physical activity in your diary like you would any meeting or appointment and try to embed this into your daily routine so it starts to become habit. Plan which form of physical activity you’ll carry out in advance and lay out your comfy clothes and equipment the night before.  

The first thing I do when I wake up is put my workout clothes on, often the hardest part, and that sets the task in motion. I find if I don’t exercise first thing in the morning then my brain throws down the get out of jail free cards throughout the day and it doesn’t get done.
If you had to commute previously then you could dedicate this time to physical activity.  Similarly, you don’t have to do it all in one go. If it’s easier to schedule in short 15-minute slots a few times a day, then do this.

Enjoyable movement

Find a form of movement you enjoy. There are so many exercise options available to us now through online classes, smartphone apps, YouTube videos and the trusted Google search.

All of these allow us to exercise in the comfort of our own home without any specialist equipment.  

You can even check out Paths for All’s Strength and Balance video; all you need is a chair!

The NHS also have a selection of fitness guides to choose from. 

Set yourself up for success

Set up your working environment to encourage physical activity. Research has highlighted the benefits of standing desks and although these may not be practical for all, they can be a useful alternative to break up long periods of sitting.

As zoom calls become a natural part of our day, try standing during your next zoom meeting or walking around the house during phone calls. Here’s a trick: place your phone upstairs or in another room so you have to get up to answer it or make calls.

Set a timer to remind yourself to take regular movement breaks every 30 - 60 minutes to walk around the house or do some light stretching. 

Chores don’t have to be a bore

Household chores or a spot of gardening are an excellent way to include some physical activity in your day. I find plugging the headphones in with some upbeat tunes usually helps to make it more appealing and often end up dancing my way through the hoovering (while no one’s looking, of course!). 

Club together

Remember, many of your colleagues will be experiencing the same so get together at lunch time to take part in a virtual class such as yoga or tai-chi. It’s a great opportunity to socialise and try something new together.


Sleep plays a vital part in our ability to function day-to-day so having a bedtime routine helps to ensure we’ve wound down for the day and get enough shut-eye. Regular physical activity contributes to our overall sleep quality so the two are inextricably linked.  

Incorporate more movement into your day little by little and be patient with yourself as you do this; change is hard.  Be proud of your body and marvel at what it’s capable of; what a feat of engineering. The hardest bit is starting. All you need to do is just move, in any which way you can, and build upon this gradually. 

For organisations that are looking to implement home working in their organisation more permanently, support is available via our Smarter Choices Smarter Places Open Fund