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As more companies allow employees to work remote for part or all of the work week, working from home is getting more attention than ever. Some practical benefits of remote work are obvious, like saving money on gas and transportation, better work-life balance, and improved morale. What some people might not realize right away is that working from home has health benefits, too. In this post, I discuss just a few reasons why working from home can be a lifestyle choice that supports health and fitness.
You don’t have to eat unhealthy things to be polite
Social things like birthday cakes and catered lunches are meant to be fun. If you are trying to make lifestyle changes for your health, though, office lunches can be a source of tremendous stress and anxiety.
Politely declining “fun food” can feel super awkward. Some people might even think it’s a little bit ungrateful to pass up birthday cake when celebrating Debbie from Accounting. But when you work from home, there’s no pressure to have a cheat treat in the name of being social.
When I’m working, I don’t even like to wonder what I’m going to have for lunch. It’s so much easier to honor the promises I make to myself when I have healthy meals and snacks prepared. When I’m feeling stress during a project, it’s so tempting to pack up my laptop and load up on empty calories while I work from the bar down the street.
My future-in-laws changed the game for me when they taught me about meal prep. Honey and I had already been using the Instant Pot to batch prepare delicious, healthy meals quickly and without making a huge mess in the kitchen. Futzing around with every different size Tupperware and always misplacing lids was really annoying, though.
Our eyes really opened when we were visiting and saw that they used meal prep containers to solve the annoying Tupperware problem. Containers? Check. Any lid? Check. Boom. First World Problem solved. Add in the fact that they’re portion controlled, and they’re foolproof.
Nobody judges you for what you eat or gives you unsolicited tips
You know those people who have the answers to everyone’s problems except their own? Everyone was a health expert in my last 9-5. Our IT guy was notorious for lecturing the women in the office about sticking to their macros while chowing down on a bag of Fritos!
When you work from home, it’s easier to honor your intuition about what to eat. Sticking to a lifestyle change is easier without consciously tuning out from the competing advice of well-meaning people who just don’t have a clue.
You can set up your office to support your health goals
A couple of years ago, my parents and I got concerned about our heart health. We all work from our computers, which means that we are sedentary a lot of the time. Around the winter holidays we decided to make environmental changes to our offices.
First, I transitioned to a standing desk. My dad made the switch shortly after I did. Then I got my mom a Desk Cycle as a birthday/Christmas gift. I now use a Desk Cycle of my own every day that I’m working, often for hours at a time.
The return on investment of health-optimizing my office has been enormous. When I was just sitting all day, I had back pain and knee pain. The little aches and pains were a distraction while I was working, but I really felt them when I was away from my desk, living my life.
Before I modified my office environment, things like enjoying a day at a theme park with my family weren’t as fun as they could have been because of my knee pain. Earlier this month my family and I spent a day at Disney World, in which we visited all 4 parks. If you’d suggested that a year ago, I would have laughed you out of my office. But I took 22,000 steps and walked 12 miles in the heat without any knee pain at all!
You can schedule time to exercise without fighting rush hour
My apartment complex has a pretty nice fitness center. I love that it’s covered in my rent and I can walk to it. Like any gym though, it’s packed in the mornings and evenings.
When I was in a 9-5, my options were to get up freakishly early to hopefully maybe get to use a machine, then have to shower and do my hair and makeup all in a rush to make it to work on time, then spend the rest of the day a bit tired…or dread my workout all day and fight the evening rush. An averagely motivated person with a life outside of work and working out is likely to burn out on that pretty quickly. I think it’s why so many fitness-related New Year’s Resolutions fail.
Now, I just nip over to the fitness center when I have some unscheduled time. It’s usually quiet during the day.