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Working at Home Now? Here's How to Work Out While You Work.

March 23, 2020

For many working adults now working at home because of the coronavirus pandemic, one thing hasn't changed: The 9-to-5 routine still involves a lot of time sitting down, whether it’s sitting in a desk chair for eight hours or sitting through long virtual meetings. At least you don't have to commute. While sitting may be a requirement of your job, physical therapists Ken Bruno and Shawn Tuthill of the Hartford HealthCare Rehabilitation Network say it can also lead to many health problems, including:

  • Increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • Reduction in bone health. (Bones need to continue to support loads in order to maintain strength.)
  • Muscle strains in the neck and shoulders. (Upper Trapezius  and spinal stabilizers muscles can get overstressed trying to support the head and can increase the possibility of the onset of headaches.)
  • Limitations in neck and shoulder mobility. (Due to chronic positioning the overall ligamentous and disc mobility in cervical and thoracic spine is decreased. Protracted shoulder position limits overall use of upper extremities and can increase the onset of shoulder impingement with overhead reaching.)
  • Limitations in hip and lumbar spine mobility. (Chronic sitting can put people at a higher risk of disc herniation in the lumbar spine. Seated position can result in tightness of hip flexors and increased stiffness of the lumbar spine.)
  • Weakening of the gluts and abdominals.
  • Increased risk of injury due to progressive weakness of legs.
  • Circulatory deficiencies  from chronic dependent leg positioning (varicose veins, peripheral edema).
  • Increased risk of elbow, wrist and hand symptoms with prolonged computer use.
Because most people can't get in a workout while they’re at work, Ken and Shawn have several tips that will help you stay active throughout your day.
  • Plan to take routine breaks from sitting – set yourself reminders on your computer or phone.
  • Stand up every 30 to 45 minutes and move around for at least 2 minutes. Easy activities like doing heel raises, marching and doing wall pushups can be worked into the 2 minutes.
  • While standing, gently move your lumbar spine and legs in order to counteract prolonged sitting posture.
  • Gently move arms and neck through their available range to improve upon protracted head positioning.
  • Follow the 20/20/20 rule to stave off headaches from eye strain and chronic poor posture. Every 20 min correct your posture by sitting up tall, and focus for at least 20 seconds on a distant object at least 20 feet away.
  • Take phone calls standing.
  • Take a walk during your lunch break.
  • Take the stairs when available.
Get others involved to help with consistency of healthy habits. This will help you keep each other motivated and make exercising more fun! For more tips and ideas on how to maintain a healthy lifestyle, follow Hartford HealthCare Rehabilitation Network on Facebook and Instagram at @boneandjointinmotion. Click here to visit the Hartford HealthCare Medical Group. Not feeling well? Call your healthcare provider for guidance and try to avoid going directly to an emergency department or urgent care center, as this could increase the chances of the disease spreading. Click here to schedule a virtual visit with a Hartford HealthCare-GoHealth Urgent care doctor. Stay with Hartford HealthCare for everything you need to know about the coronavirus threat. Click here for information updated daily. Questions? Call our 24-hour hotline (860.972.8100 or, toll-free, 833.621.0600).  Get text alerts by texting 31996 with COVID19 in the message field.