Working From Home During COVID-19? Tips on Staying Healthy and Active

March 27, 2020 Dr Zil

With the spread of COVID-19 affecting everything from international travel to the availability of hand sanitizer, thousands of Australians are now working from home, or self-isolating, and adjusting to a lot more time away from a traditional workspace. Although the couch or coffee table can feel comfortable at first, not having an ergonomic workspace can cause muscle strain on our neck and back. And in addition to poor posture, working from home can also mean we are moving less, which is bad news for our joints and cardiovascular system.

So to help out, we’ve put together a few tips on staying physically and mentally fit from your new home office.

Plan out your day

First thing’s first: you should probably sit up straight, eat some breakfast, and put on some pants. Secondly, have a plan!

Just like when you are going into the office, it’s important to have a schedule. You’ll find if you set a wake up time and keep your morning routine, it will have a positive impact on your mental health

Find a dedicated workspace

One of the best ways to ensure some home/work balance is to have a dedicated workspace. Sitting on a comfortable chair, at a table, will help you maintain an ergonomic setup that’s better for your neck than slouching on the couch.

Jonathan Cinkay, a physical therapist and body mechanics coordinator at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, says that the best ergonomic foundation is a desk and chair setup where your elbows can be bent to 90 degrees, meaning you’re not sitting too low or too high compared to the desk. Where your hands naturally land is where your keyboard and mouse should be. If your chair isn’t adjustable, you can always improvise with a pillow, and get a footstool if your feet don’t touch the floor to take pressure off your legs and lower back. Finally, the top of your monitor should be eye level so you don’t strain your neck. If you can’t raise it, set it on top of a few books or a ream of printer paper.

If you’re struggling with additional muscle strain and are experiencing lower back pain, SacroLoc’s clinically proven back braces are suitable for providing acute care, for boosting rehabilitation and for daily preventive use. They provide a massaging effect on your musculature that helps treat pain, tension and inflammation. The Vein Institute Shop.

Stay active

While being cooped up in the house all day may hurt your step count, especially if you walk or bike as part of your commute, it doesn’t have to. The best thing about working from home is you’ve gained back all the time you normally spend going to and from work. Put that time to good use and get outside for a walk or run, ideally first thing in the morning to get some of that good morning light, which is linked to greater alertness, better sleep, and less stress.

In our new COVID-19 reality, the great outdoors where you don’t have to touch anything or come into contact with anyone is one of the safest places you can be. That includes parks, the backyard, even sidewalks — as long as you maintain your social-distancing radius — so don’t be afraid to get outside for some fresh air.

Schedule breaks

As with staying active, it’s important to schedule regular breaks and move around. When you sit, you use less energy than you do when you stand or move. Research has linked sitting for long periods of time with a number of health concerns. They include obesity and a cluster of conditions — increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels — that make up metabolic syndrome. (ref MayoClinc.org)

Additionally, sitting for long stretches can impair the blood circulation in your lower extremities, leading to vein valves failure and blood pooling in your legs – basically the cause of varicose veins. (Find out more: varicose vein causes)

What are varicose veins?

Varicose veins are the result of a medical condition called Chronic Venous Insufficiency, or CVI. The impacted veins are swollen, enlarged and twisted with a blue or purple appearance. Varicose veins develop when vein valves, which are responsible for forcing blood back up towards the heart, become damaged. When blood is not able to flow back up to the heart, it begins to reflux or pool, forming the enlarged vessels you know as varicose veins.

Any vein could become varicose, but the veins which are most commonly impacted are those in your legs. This is believed to be due to inflammation in the vein wall which is caused by additional pressure that is put on your veins when walking or sitting for long periods of time.

Seated exercises to increase blood circulation:

If you’re looking for working from home tips and exercises you can perform whilst sitting in your chair, or on a conference call. Try some of the below, which we also recommend for long-haul travel.

Foot Lifts

Sitting up straight, place both heels on the floor and lift your toes as high as you can, holding the stretch for 15 seconds. Then relax and perform the opposite motion, placing the balls of your feet on the floor and lifting your heels as high as you can for 15 seconds.

Ankle Rotations

Sitting up straight, place both heels on the floor and lift your toes as high as you can, holding the stretch for 15 seconds. Then relax and perform the opposite motion, placing the balls of your feet on the floor and lifting your heels as high as you can for 15 seconds.

Knee to Chest

Bend forward slightly and grab your left knee and pull it towards your chest. Hold for 15 seconds, and then repeat with the other knee.

Leg Stretches

Stretch one leg out straight under the seat in front of you and rotate your foot clockwise ten times, and then counter-clockwise ten times. Repeat with the other leg.

Forward Bends

Place both feet flat on the floor and pull your abdomen in, then bend forward slowly and walk your fingers down your shins to your ankles. Hold this position for 15 seconds and then sit up.

Muscle Contractions

Sit up straight and contract your abdominal muscles and hold them in place for 20-30 seconds. Then do the same thing while tightening your gluteal muscles.

Seek expert advice

The doctors at The Vein Institute specialise in varicose vein treatment. We offer patients a comprehensive treatment program to treat varicose veins, with non-surgical laser treatment techniques. The benefits of laser treatment to patients are;

  • Walk-in walk-out treatment
  • 98% success rate
  • Extremely effective
  • Can be performed at a clinic (no hospitalisation)
  • No general anaesthetic
  • Medicare rebates apply
  • No downtime or time away from work