Keep moving while WFH

Building activity breaks into your work day has both health and productivity benefits.

Now that we are all WFH, our homes have become our offices. And it looks like we might be here for a while, so it’s important to make sure we break up sitting time throughout the day.

Building activity breaks into your work day has both health and productivity benefits, says Alfred Deakin Professor Jo Salmon from Deakin’s Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition (IPAN).

She says there is mounting evidence to suggest that breaking up sitting time is associated with lower risk factors for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

And while there aren’t specific guidelines on how often you should break up your sitting, she recommends taking a quick break every half hour – stand, stretch, or grab a drink before returning to work.

“Breaking up sitting can actually help you with the task you’re working on by improving concentration and time on task,” Jo says.

A longer (socially distanced) walk outside each day is great, but Jo suggests also stretching your legs with a short walk several times a day.

“Even if it’s just to the letterbox, or to water the plants – a little walk just allows your body to move,” she says.

While most of us don’t have the luxury of an optional standing desk at home, you can move your laptop to the kitchen bench so you’re standing up for a specific task – such as checking emails, marking or writing papers.

“Now is the time to set some new habits in place. Become aware of how much time you spend sitting, and identify moments where it’s possible to reduce that sitting time,” she says.

“The first thing you do when you start work is sit at your desk. For many of us stuck in endless Zoom meetings try standing during each meeting, there’s no need to sit down the whole time. It’s about being more aware of your sitting and identifying opportunities to move whenever you can.”

Tips for creating movement habits include: 

  • Use an app, the timer on your phone, or a wearable activity tracker to set a notification to get up and move around at regular intervals.
  • Schedule time in your calendar to exercise just like you would a Zoom meeting.
  • Work with what you’ve got. A trip to the letterbox, water the plants on the balcony, a few flights of the stairs – think about what your living arrangements allow.
  • Stand up during Zoom meetings. Move your laptop to the kitchen bench and stand up for a while. Make it a rule to stand up and walk around when you’re talking on the phone.
  • Get creative: search Google for some crafty ideas on how to turn your home workstation into a standing desk and alternate between sitting and standing.
  • Keep a small glass of water on your desk so you have to refill the glass every time you are thirsty.

The Australian Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour guidelines suggest people build up to between 15 and 300 minutes of moderately intensive exercise over the week, with some activity each day.

Jo says there is growing awareness about the benefits of integrating movement into each day, and the health risks of not doing so.

“While we are all working in this altered environment, we need to make sure we are taking care of our health and not spending too much time sitting in front of our screens,” she says.


Click here for more information about Deakin IPAN’s research into physical activity and nutrition or follow us on Twitter @DeakinIPAN