Creative Ways to Embed Movement Breaks into Your Work From Home Schedule

Before reading on, I want to make it clear that I am very thankful for all of the essential workers who are risking their lives on the front lines, working crazy hours and graciously sacrificing precious time with their loved ones to keep the rest of us safe. I sincerely feel blessed to be able to work safely from my home.

We are now several weeks into school closures and our new system of working from home. As a kindergarten teacher, you can well imagine that I’m always on the move. There’s never a dull moment…just ask anyone who has ever visited a Kindergarten classroom! It seems that on a “slow” day at work, I have no trouble hitting 7500 steps on my Fitbit. 10,000 steps is quite attainable, if I happen to stop at the store, go for a walk at lunch or get a workout in before work….really anything extra outside my regular day generally gets me there. I am shocked at how my Fitbit steps have seemingly fallen right off the map! So, aside from working within the confines of my little home office, let’s not forget that even shopping steps are at a bare minimum with limited trips to the stores these days.

I’m not going to lie…I have been know to say how much I despise working out. Although I’ve done my fair share of programs in the past…P90X, Jillian Michaels, etc., all have been done begrudgingly. I’m just not that person. I love sports and have always tried to get my exercise playing games and doing the things I love. Isn’t that how it is supposed to be. No one ever went to the gym in the olden days!! You just worked, played and stayed active.

However, in this day and age, work for me right now looks a lot like sitting in front of a computer screen for 6 to 10 (sometimes 12) hours a day. There was a steep learning curve…so much to learn, do and juggle. Even as a seasoned teacher with years of experience, I still didn’t feel prepared for this new way of teaching. Despite all of the hard work and long hours, I am finally finding my groove and learning to embrace it.

So, with time to finally take a breath and reflect on this new way of doing life….I’ve made some observations. When I finally crawl in to bed at night after working hard all day, my Fitbit has the audacity to log a whopping 2000-3000 steps! How frustrating! So with my head finally above the surface, I needed a plan. How might I survive this pandemic without breaking the scales and losing every speck of muscle tone I’ve ever had?

Creative Strategies to Get Up, Get Moving & Burn Some Calories

  1. WORKOUT: The first thing I had to do was change my attitude about working out. (This will be a process, but I am working on it. ~ It is my body and I should honour and respect it by taking good care of it.) My negative attitude basically has me fighting against myself. So, that means I had to make some decisions: I will eat well and take action to get mobile. On a good day, I do a 30 minute Jillian Michaels workout (3/2/1) which I must admit I hate and takes every bit of will power I have to complete. I hate cardio…it leaves me winded and sprawled on the mat in desperate need of a nap. (I think that means I need more cardio…ugh.). If I plan to do this workout, I aim for first thing in the morning, because I am incredibly skilled at talking myself out of it. I basically can’t leave any time to think about it or I will opt out. I only manage to do this a few times a week ( I aim for 3 and celebrate if I make it). I know all of you workout junkies are rolling your eyes at my incompetence, but hey…just keepin’ it real!
  2. On the days when I don’t do Jillian, I have committed to doing 30 Days of Yoga with Adriene on YouTube. I do enjoy doing yoga with Adriene (especially the short classes). So basically, I am doing either Jillian or Adriene everyday. I think I might have had two rockstar days in which I was unstoppable and did both (but if memory serves me correct….I was in bed super early both nights!)
  3. Even with one of the above workouts, I was barely hitting 3000 steps. I found that walking my dog,¬†Hershey, really helped to bump them up. Although, we generally take turns walking Hershey, it makes sense for me to take on this responsibility and kill two birds with one stone. I’ve found a route that is about 3 km long, as well as a few shorter routes that I can do just to stretch my legs and take a little break. Even if I don’t have time to do the longer walk, it’s easy to fit in one of the shorter walks to help increase my steps.
  4. Last week, I had to pop into the school, so I asked if I could borrow a skipping rope and a hula hoop. I tried the hula hoop (in the privacy of my own home, of course) and that was a bit of a disaster. The only workout I was really getting was bending over to pick up the hoop that kept falling! Not. A. Pretty. Sight. I am determined to make a least 5 twirls without it falling, before this work from home thing is over. In the mean time, it is great for practising squats.
  5. Jump Rope ~ Unlike the hoop, I was able to pick-up the skipping pretty quickly (despite being many years since I’ve done it). My jump rope plan was simple…..every single time that Hershey (my dog) wants to go outside during the day….I do 100 jumps with the rope. (Okay…mostly 50, pause, 50, but I am getting better!) I have done 100 a few times, but usually by the time I get 75 I can barely clear the rope and it gets caught on my feet. Either way, without or without mistakes/breaks, I do 100 jumps every time. This doesn’t give me much more than a few hundred steps, but the panting and sweat tell me it is still good for me, so I’ll keep at it. I leave the rope on the back door handle, as a vivid reminder of my promise to get active.
  6. Stop Yelling (it’s not very polite anyway). Our teenagers sleep on the second story of our home and I’m notorious for yelling at them from the bottom of the stairs…whether it be to wake them up, come down or call them for dinner. I decided to try my very best to stop doing that and make the climb each and every time I need them for something. This actually makes quite a difference. Stairs really do help and I find that with our main floor laundry, I sure don’t get the same steps I used to.
  7. We have an elliptical in the basement that I use periodically (that means not so much). One of my strategies is to do “one song” on my playlist a few times a day. It gets me down to the basement (that’s stairs!) and the movement break helps to energize me for another couple of hours. I’m finding that the little short spurts of exercise are quite enjoyable and fun! (Okay, that might be a bit of a stretch, but they are certainly more tolerable for a person who’s still learning to embrace workouts with a positive attitude.)
  8. Just Dance: Some times I stand at my computer screen…blast some music and bust a move. I usually only last one song because it is not the easiest way to get work done, but it is fun and gives my family yet another reason to laugh at me (or roll their eyes, depending).
  9. House Cleaning: Again, ask me to paint, do a DYI project, refinish a piece of furniture…I’m in. House cleaning I do because it has got to get done. Whenever possible I try to make it a family affair to spread the “joy of cleaning”. However, in these crazy times, I have found a certain amount of peace and thankfulness in the mundane activities that help to keep a house in order. I will often put on my headphone or blast the music and find that it feeds my spirit as I go about the business of caring for our home. The bonus that I never really took the time to notice before is that it’s a great way to stay active. Vacuuming, sweeping, dusting, mopping and even cleaning out a cupboard can slowly but steadily add to your daily step count.

I can’t say that I am reaching the steps I used to when I was in the classroom, but I am definitely more aware of how much I am sitting and the need to consciously incorporate movement breaks into my day. I hope that you might be inspired to think outside of the box and find your own creative ways to stay healthy and active.

I’d love to hear your ideas on how you are keeping mobile during this time when so many are bound to home. Leave your comments below!