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How to Turn Your Home Office Into a Workday Gym

Lifehacker logo Lifehacker 10/20/2020 Beth Skwarecki
a person sitting at a desk in a room: Woman at her desk with a chair and a yoga ball (her feet are propped up on the yoga ball) © Photo: Andrey_Popov (Shutterstock) Woman at her desk with a chair and a yoga ball (her feet are propped up on the yoga ball)

Do you prefer to get your workout in bit-by-bit during the workday instead of going to the gym? Or perhaps you just want to start breaking up the monotony with some more healthy habits? Here’s how to turn your office (or the corner where you work) into a place you can also work out.

Don’t just sit all day

A good chair is a wise investment, but there’s no need to sit in the same chair all day no matter how good a chair it is. Any of these options will help keep you moving:

You Don't Actually Have to Sit Up Straight

You can also assign different options to different tasks. Maybe you stand for all your zoom meetings, but do the bulk of your work at a desk. Or maybe you bounce on the yoga ball for some tasks and settle into the couch for others. If you have audio-only calls, why not take them while you’re walking?

Why I Switched My Office Chair with an Exercise Ball (and What It's Like)

Have a supply of healthy snacks


Gallery: 7 Warning Signs You’re Exercising Too Much (Eat This, Not That!)

If you’ve embraced the idea that we shouldn’t be eating at our desks, chances are you’re still doing it anyway but feel bad about it. If you feel the need for workday snacks, work with that interest instead of against it.

Set up a place on or near your desk to stash healthy snacks—maybe some nuts or even a bowl of fresh fruit. Or if you prefer to grab a yogurt or some carrots and dip from the fridge, have a place on your desk where you can put them, and a napkin handy.

If you don’t like having snacks within view, I’ve found that a perfect spot is to put them behind my laptop, so that the screen blocks my view—but they’re still in reach when I get hungry.

Dress for success

Work clothes and workout clothes aren’t necessarily the same thing. But if you intend to get in a few quick sessions of exercise throughout the day, you probably don’t want to have to change every time.

I recommend a half-and-half approach. From the waist down, wear whatever is comfortable. Leggings, shorts and sweatpants are all classic options. Then on top, wear something presentable. If you’re lucky, you work at a place where nobody cares what you’re wearing. But if not, keep a blazer or a cute top near your desk, and pop it on before a meeting.

If You Don't Have Time for a Workout, Try Exercise 'Snacks' Instead

Plan appropriately

Now it’s time to decide if you’re staying active in your home office instead of or in addition to other workouts for the day. Especially if it’s the former, make sure you’re approaching this with a plan.

You might want to set up a checklist or chart for yourself (or use a habit tracking app) to make sure you get in the exercises you planned. I go for a walk every morning and at lunchtime, for example. You can set yourself a target number of squats or push-ups each day, and change up the exercise each day if you like. Just consider what your overall week (and year, and month) will look like if you follow the plan. Remember, consistency makes a bigger difference than any of the little details.

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