Fit & healthy working from home

15. February 2021

How do I keep fit?

What are the rules and how do I keep fit?

Many employees find the constant availability associated with working from home very stressful. If they also have children at home, things can quickly get out of hand. A lot of people are finding the change from their usual working situation to working from home very stressful.

When you are working from home, there may also be other distractions, such as noise from the neighbours, noise from construction sites, or loud traffic right in front of your door. And don’t forget, many people are also having to take care of their children at the same time. In many cases, adapting to this new way of working is not easy, especially if you are having to cope on your own.

If you are currently working from home, you will be spending a lot of time sitting down, you won’t often leave your house: you will hardly be moving. The Apotheken Umschau pharmacy chain points out the negative consequences that can result from this:

1. Sitting still for long periods of time increases the risk of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases such as diabetes. One of the reasons for this is that sitting still for long periods of time increases the risk factors for diseases of this type. These risk factors include, for example, increased levels of abdominal fat.

2. Your muscles and posture also suffer from sitting still for too long. This can lead to the loss of muscle mass in your legs, and also pain in the shoulder and neck area, for example.

3. In addition, if you sit still for long periods of time, your legs may swell up.

Also, many people don’t have a proper office space at home, instead sitting cramped at the kitchen table or even in the hallway. None of these are good prerequisites for staying healthy. This is why we recommend setting yourself rules!

It is important to stick to fixed working hours, because people often lose track of time when working from home many and don’t even notice that they have been sitting at their laptop for over 10 hours without moving. Make sure that you start work at the usual time, build short breaks into your day, and when you get to the end of the day, switch off your laptop and switch off from “work mode”.

Don’t do too much

Even if it’s difficult, you should try to finish work on time. It is important to make a conscious decision to end your working day, and not to do any more work after this point. Around 80 percent of Germans are working longer hours at home during the pandemic.

Almost 30 percent state that they are working an extra four hours or more a day. One person in five (21.9%) is feeling more time and performance pressure, according to a survey on mental health by the LinkedIn network.

There are a number of things you can do to prevent health problems: this includes setting up your workstation so that you can work properly. Make sure that you have adequate lighting, ideally daylight. You also need to ensure that the ambient temperature is conducive to working: the ideal temperature is between 20° and 22° Celsius.

Shoulders, back, neck – when working from home, sitting still for long periods of time leads to tension and pain.

Align your desk, chair and screen so that you can sit upright, with your gaze directed straight at your monitor. Your lower legs and thighs should form a 90 to 100 degree angle when you sit, and your feet should be firmly on the floor.

A little tip: change your sitting position as often as possible. This will relieve any parts of your body that are feeling strained and prevent tension building up in your back.

This is known as dynamic sitting. In contrast to static sitting, you move your back as much as possible, alternating between forward-leaning, upright and backward-leaning postures, writes health expert Maria Schumann for t3n.

Build activity into your everyday life

To ensure that you don’t seize up sitting at your laptop, you should take your lunch break and use it, if you can, to go for a walk, bike ride or jog. The fresh air and exercise will do you good. In addition, going for a walk will help you to clear your head and overcome any mental blocks you might be suffering. You might also come up with some creative ideas.

Plan small exercises and breaks into your day

Studies have already shown that a large number of people spend their lunch break sitting at the computer. Taking proper breaks is especially important if you want to remain agile and work effectively.

You should therefore plan your breaks into your day and set clear time limits for doing exercises or taking a walk. Incidentally, you can do some small exercises while sitting at your desk, such as stretching your tendons, which is very important for staying fit and healthy.

You can get regular exercise by using little tricks to make yourself walk round your home. For example, don’t position the printer and your mobile phone close to your desk, but in a different room. This will ensure that you have to get up and walk about every now and then, and will keep you moving. More movement also means less risk to your heart.

Thankfully, today we have access to a wide range of apps, online gyms, YouTube channels and online courses (for example yoga), which you can use to stay fit while working from home. Nowadays we can train around the clock with fitness coaches from all over the world. Many coaches offer their followers live sports content, and often completely free of charge.

Hydration is important for psychological fitness

It’s the middle of winter and you probably have the heating on at home, so make sure that you drink plenty of liquids, preferably water or unsweetened tea. Keep them within easy reach on your desk so that you are reminded to keep yourself hydrated. Don’t forget to ventilate your home regularly too. Fresh air helps you to fight tiredness and increases your concentration.

And now that you probably spending most of your day sitting still, eating healthily is more important than ever. In order to stay in shape, you should eat in moderation and, if possible, only eat light foods, as your body consumes fewer calories while sitting down. You should also avoid hearty meals because they will make you feel tired more quickly. The German Nutrition Society (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Ernährung,DGE) also recommends eating at least two servings of fruit and three servings of vegetables a day.

As far back as 2019, a survey by the AOK Scientific Institute (WIdO) showed that people who work from home are exposed to more stress than their office-based colleagues. According to the study, the most common health problems associated with working from home include exhaustion, problems concentrating and sleep disorders – usually triggered by unfavourable working conditions.

New rules on working from home

In the latest round of lockdowns, Germany’s federal and state governments have once addressed the issue of working from home. Germany’s labour ministry has now formally decreed that working from home should be extended, after previously merely appealing to people to do so. The Federal Government announced: In view of the current status of the pandemic, the further reduction of epidemiologically relevant contacts in professional contexts is necessary.

To this end, the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs will issue an ordinance stating that until March 15, 2021, employers must allow employees to work from home wherever possible, provided that their activities allow for this.

This will reduce workplace contacts, as well as contacts during the commute to and from work. The Federal Chancellor and the heads of Germany’s federal states have asked workers to take advantage of the offer.

Where presential attendance is still required, the maximum occupancy in confined spaces must continue to be reduced as part of the implementation of the COVID-19 occupational health and safety standards. Where sufficient social distancing cannot be assured, medical masks such as FFP2 masks must be provided by employers.

For medical official Frank Ulrich Montgomery, mandatory working from home is now urgently required. “It is good that regulation is now going to force more employers to allow working from home”, said the chair of the World Medical Association in the “Rheinische Post“.

Luckily there are also some advantages to working from home. You save yourself the time and stress of commuting to and from work, you have more time for yourself and your family, and another handy, and sometimes practical bonus – you can work in your jogging gear. However, the lack of contact with friends and colleagues remains a major burden, because people need company. But we’re just going to have to deal with that for the moment.

In the end, the only thing left to do is to wish you continued good health. Hang in there!