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How to Keep Moving While You’re Zooming

Christen Biskelonis, PT, DPT
Physical Therapist
August 6, 2021

Here we are, almost a year and a half from when the world shut down due to COVID., Our way of life has totally changed—along with our physical activity. For a large majority of our working population who work in offices, working from home or working remotely is the new norm. A lot of big businesses have found financial relief in closing their office spaces or discontinuing their building leases and are allowing their staff to either work remotely indefinitely, or working in the office on an “as-needed basis” only. 

Although some companies are requesting their employees to slowly start trickling back into the office, a lot of Americans are now in the situation of living at home, working from home, and being within their home majority of the time. This leaves a lot of us with the predicament of significantly decreasing our movement and activity throughout the day. Many of us were forced to become expert multitaskers with many new hats of responsibility to wear; this added burden of daily stress all leads to decreased movement. The common activity that we did see an increase in, however, is sitting. There’s a saying in the physical medicine world: if you sit in a chair long enough, you start to look like a chair. 

While many of us had desk jobs prior to the pandemic, we at least had the opportunity to get up and stretch our legs at the office whether it was walking to/from the building each day, having to take the stairs to reach your office floor, walking to the water cooler or coffee station to catch up with your coworkers, or running down the hallway to make it to your next meeting on time. All of these little bits of movement add up throughout the day. You might not have even realized how much you moved, but now that your living/working/teaching space is confined to a 10 x 10 box, it’s starting to take it’s toll. So, how can we maximize our mobility given the geographic constraints this pandemic has imposed on us? As a physical therapist, I have some ideas  on how we can prevent this from happening and/or worsening. 

For starters, there are a few ways to get moving while you’re on a Zoom call.

Seated Calf Raises: Seated calf raises are an easy and effective way for muscle activation and a great tool to help with proper blood flow and circulation by utilizing the calf muscles as a pump to bring blood back to the heart more efficiently. Sitting with both feet flat on the ground, raise both feet up onto your toes, lifting the heels off the floor, and then return to the start position. Performing bouts of these movements, say 20-30 repetitions hourly, is a great way to keep your circulation in check as well as providing some muscle activation in your legs.

Alternate Sit/Stand: Another great tip is to set a timer every hour as a “get up and move reminder”. If you happen to be on a Zoom call for a duration greater than an hour, simply find a place to stand while on the call. Standing activates a ton of muscles and  going from the transition of sitting to standing and vice versa, mimics similar body mechanics found in a squat. By making the effort to alternate between periods of sitting and standing, you are activating the large muscles of your legs including your quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings. The act of standing burns more calories than sitting because it requires a greater activation of postural muscles to keep you upright (with proper posture of course) thus requiring a greater energy expenditure. If given the opportunity to sit or stand, I vote for stand!

Walking Meetings: A lot of these work calls can be time consuming, but don’t necessarily require you to be in front of your computer for the call. These moments are perfect opportunities to lace up your sneakers and take that call on the go by going for a walk. The miles can quickly add up and take place without notice when your attention is still on your work–the beauty of killing two birds with one stone! 

10,000 Steps A Day: If you still have the opportunity to take a formal lunch break or have down time, plan ahead for how you can make the most of these moments. Walking is one of the simplest most underrated forms of physical activity that not only promotes better cardiovascular health, but also good bone health, toning of musculature, reduces risk of diabetes, and helps reduce the risk of depression. Your goal should be 10,000 steps every day. 

150 Minutes Per Week: The US department of Health and Human services recommends 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity exercise, such as brisk walking. If you have a few meetings or calls each day, spending one 30-minute call a day for 5 days a week outside helps you reach this guideline without trouble, and odds are, you probably will even exceed it depending on how you time your walks! 

Exercise does not have to be hard, and it can easily be achieved with a little planning and guidance. Some of the most effective forms of movement require no special equipment or fancy gym memberships, and the benefits are priceless when it comes to better health and overall wellness. Summer is here, so the opportunity for great weather is upon us. Lace up those sneakers and make the most of it by getting out and moving! Your Physical Medicine Team at Crossover: If you feel like you would like more guidance as far as developing a good home exercise program, improving your posture, relieving your back pain, or alleviating other aches and pains, Crossover has a lot of resources available to our members. We offer in-person or virtual physical therapy sessions where we can assess your mobility, strength, flexibility, and range of motion to customize an appropriate plan to your specific needs. We also offer virtual fitness assessments by our fitness coaches as well as free live or on-demand fitness classes ).  Summer is here, so lace up those sneakers and make the most of it by getting out and moving!