Although working from home may not be all that different from working in an office, you may notice more discomfort in your body. Blame that stiff neck, shoulder tension and backache on using your laptop on the couch, while standing at a makeshift desk that’s too high or at an otherwise un-ideal workstation from an ergonomics perspective. It’s part of the somewhat abrupt shift many of us have had to make due to the coronavirus.
The perfect antidote to any of these warning signs from your body is to move more. “Get out of the postures you’re spending your day in,” says Julie Dorsey, an associate professor of occupational therapy at Ithaca College. Most of us have everything in front of us, so our neck, trunk and arms are all in frontal flexion, she explains. What you want is to put your body into the opposite positions.
Ideally, for every 20 minutes you sit, you should stand for eight minutes and move for two minutes while getting away from your desk, Dorsey says. Keep in mind, those eight minutes of standing can be during a call or video meeting, and your movement can be more than walking to the bathroom — you can also take calls while walking.
If that seems like a lot of break time, give it a shot, trying to follow the recommendations as much as possible. Consider setting timers or using Post-it notes to remind yourself to get up and do the exercises below, or get your family or roommates involved and ask them to join you in doing laps or walking lunges around your house or apartment. Then note how your body feels at the end of the day compared to how it feels when you don’t follow these recommendations. “If you feel the difference, you may be more motivated to take these breaks because you feel it’s worth it,” Dorsey says.
Either way, “any movement is better than no movement,” she adds. Here are her recommended stretches and movements to help keep your body feeling and functioning its best.