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Ask our physio…

Jo Balfour, our Hospiscare physiotherapist, answers your question about healthy movement when we’re spending more time indoors

A woman wearing a Hospiscare fleece

How do I keep active and healthy when I’m working from home or need to self-isolate?

Many of us have been spending more time indoors over the past few months and we may be socialising less due to concerns over our own and others’ safety.

It may feel, at times, that our world has become much smaller with so many of us working from home, and with the screens of our devices our windows to the wider world. Although our screens are invaluable at keeping us connected safely, allowing us to work from home and stay entertained through the long winter months and periods of self-isolation, we need to think about the impact that this has on our bones and muscles. Our backs are bending forwards more, our necks and heads are looking down and our shoulders are often hunched. We are frequently in this flexed posture, which is not natural for our bodies. We’re not designed to sit still – our muscles want to be used!

A quick rule of thumb is that any movement is better than no movement. Whether you’re working from home, avoiding the wintry weather or self-isolating, try setting an alarm on your phone every 30 minutes to make time for healthy movement.

The following exercises can all be done from your chair to allow gentle movement during a busy working day or if you’re feeling under the weather:

  • First, slowly look up to the Allow your neck to extend and then return to your normal central position.
  • Next, slowly look from left to right, feeling the stretch down the side of your
  • After this, bring your left ear down towards your left shoulder and then return to Repeat this on your right.
  • Next, hunch your shoulders up towards your ears and then pull them down and squeeze your shoulder blades
  • After this, lift your arms above your head and feel the muscles in your back squeeze
  • Finish by standing up and sitting down, squeezing your thigh muscles as you do

In addition to these small and gentle movements, set active goals to work towards, however big or small they may be.

These could be simple daily goals, such as climbing the stairs five times or taking a fresh air break, or they could be goals to build towards, such as a couch to 5k challenge.

Although setting a challenge for yourself is important, your goals need to be realistic in order to achieve success. Try putting a time frame in place so that you have the focus and drive to spur you to success. Finally, ensure that your movement goals are personal to you as this will give you the motivation to achieve them.