Exercise can break the Work From Home monotony

Work From Home has become the new norm since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. There are several pros and cons to this way of working but the most noticeable negative aspect is the blurring of boundaries between our professional life and personal life and the associated lack of adequate time for ourselves.

We tend to sit for long hours in front of our gadgets taking calls and attending meetings. We fail to pay attention to our physical activity requirements on a day-to-day basis. We neglect the warning signs like aches and sores until they become a real issue. We even ignore the fact that we are gaining weight and getting out of shape. We need to take remedial action now to ensure that Work From Home doesn’t pose a threat to our heart health and to our overall well-being. This post will focus on some exercises that can easily be done while working from home!

  • Perform active movements or stretching of both upper and lower limbs at least for 5 to 10 minutes every hour
  • Avoid prolonged sitting for more than 2-3 hours at a stretch by getting up from that place, taking a brisk walk or climbing 2 to 3 flights of stairs for 10 minutes

The illustrated exercises are a combination of active movements and stretches focusing on the major joints. They are:

  • The Chin tucks and Head movements will help prevent neck pain which is often a result of prolonged sitting with the head in a particular position – 10 to 15 repetitions each
  • The stretches focus on relieving tension in the major joints of the upper limbs, chest and back and to avoid muscle cramps and stiffness – hold each stretch for 20 to 30 seconds
  • The lower limb exercises namely alternate leg lifts and ankle movements will help avoid stiffness, improve blood circulation, and especially to keep the calf muscles active as they are the peripheral heart in our body – 10 to 15 repetitions each

Pay attention to your work posture

Maintain correct posture while working on your devices to avoid back pain and other musculoskeletal injuries. Keeping a straight back and neck with your device at a proper height is important. As this may be a challenge at home as you may be working on your dining tables or sofas, try to sit straight and prop a pillow on your lap if you need to.

Performing the above exercises helps in:

  • Preventing joint pains and muscle soreness
  • Improving your mood
  • Increasing your working ability
  • Preventing chronic health issues

The current lifestyle change of working from home has given us an opportunity to get work done in spite of the ongoing pandemic. But we have to realize that it’s a double-edged sword that needs to be handled tactfully. A healthy home-cooked balanced diet, adequate exercise in between work commitments and sufficient sleep and relaxation are easier to achieve now than they were ever before but it’s completely in our hands whether we make use of them or ignore them until our health deteriorates. Let us take a pledge to keep ourselves healthy and spread positivity to others too!!


SLAM score for heart health

We all love a competition now and then! A running race, a sack race, a bicycle race, a swimming race, a painting competition, a cooking competition, the list is endless. But we all like winning, no matter who or what is up against us.

So dear friends, let me introduce a new kind of competition to you! One in which you have to compete not against humans or gadgets, but against some of your own health-related behaviours. Yes, you are up against your own lifestyle risk factors (as shown in the left column) caused by your everyday behaviours (listed in the right column) in the table below.

Risky Lifestyle 

Negative behaviours that put your health at risk

1. Sedentary life 1.       Jobs that require long sitting hours

2.       Long commute in a bus/car/motorised vehicle

3.       Television/computer/mobile phone for entertainment

4.       Lack of awareness and interest in active lifestyle

5.       Inability to exercise due to poor time management

6.       Not establishing an exercise schedule that is sustainable

2. Unhealthy diet 7.       Consuming things without knowing their benefits/harms

8.       Not maintaining proper meal times

9.       Failure to make meal times an enjoyable family time at home

10.    Rewarding children/self with unhealthy treats

11.    Binge eating or force-feeding yourself/kids

12.    Ignorance about food labels and shelf life of foods/beverages

13.    Lack of interest in locally available natural ingredients

3. Addiction to tobacco/alcohol 14.    Giving in to peer pressure

15.    False belief that consuming tobacco/alcohol is trendy

16.    Associating abuse of substances with better quality of life

17.    Seeking relaxation in substance abuse

18.    Unaware of the poisonous chemicals they contain

19.    Reluctance to seek professional help to quit

4. Chronic mental stress 20.    Taking on more responsibility than you can handle

21.    Failure to recognize the stress triggers and your reactions

22.    Trying to conceal your emotions and feelings

23.    Not practicing any stress management technique

24.    Considering mental health problems a stigma

25.    Self-blame and not giving yourself a chance to feel better

5. Poor sleep habits 26.    Not knowing that sleep is as essential as water and food for us

27.    Spending too much time on the screen/monitor/gadget

28.    Not maintaining proper sleep hours while working/studying

29.    Consuming a lot of stimulants and energy drinks

30.    Taking sleeping pills on a regular basis




Self-Lifestyle Analysis and Monitoring score (SLAM score)

Using the 30 health behaviours and the 5 lifestyle risk factors listed in the table, each one of you can score yourself:

For each health-related behaviour you have, you get -1 point.

For each lifestyle risk factor you have, you get -4 points.

The worst SLAM score (if you have all the behaviours and risk factors) is -50 [that is, (-1×30 = -30) + (-4×5 = -20)=-50].

For example, if you are a bank employee who sits at the counter all day, commutes 45 minutes up and down to work by train, has a busy work schedule and a tight routine at home without much time for yourself, eats at odd hours and has a lot of ongoing stress due to work pressure and expectations at home, and gets less than 6 hours of sleep on average per day, it is highly likely that your SLAM score is in the unhealthy range (-20 to -40).

The ideal SLAM score

If you have identified your unhealthy behaviours and lifestyle risk factors and are ready to change for the better, your SLAM score is 0. Yes, for the first time getting a zero feels good! However, the ideal SLAM score is not 0, but +50. If you have a negative score, converting the negative score to a positive score will drastically change your health for the better. If you have a -20, the success is in gradually modifying your lifestyle to reach +20 within 3-6 months and aim for +50 in a year’s time.

Slow and steady changes to the unhealthy behaviours in a manner that is enjoyable and sustainable is the only way to reverse a negative SLAM score. The impact of these changes on your energy levels, fitness, confidence, cardiovascular health and overall health will be enormous.

The table below will help you make a plan on what behaviors to work on and how to achieve a healthy lifestyle. Each healthy behavior gets +1 point and each healthy lifestyle +4 points. My suggestion is to take one at a time, work on it till you’re sure you’ve got it right and then take up the next one. Be kind to yourself, don’t rush everything, and most importantly enjoy the transformation!

Healthy Lifestyle Positive behaviours that nurture good health
1. Regular exercise 1.      You take active breaks in between your long sitting hours

2.      You walk/cycle for at least a part of your long commute

3.      You prefer the outdoors than gadgets for entertainment

4.      You exercise on most days of the week for at least 30-40 minutes

5.      You manage your time well at work and home

6.      You establish an exercise schedule that you enjoy and adhere to

2. Healthy diet 7.      You understand the benefits and harms of what you eat/drink

8.      You stick to proper meal times

9.      You and your family enjoys the meal times at home

10.   You do not use unhealthy treats as rewards

11.   You do not binge eat or force-feed

12.   You read food labels and know the shelf life of foods/beverages

13.   You consume fresh locally available fruits, veggies and whole grains

3. No tobacco/alcohol use 14.   You resist peer pressure

15.   You know that consuming tobacco/alcohol is not trendy

16.   You know that abuse of substances is harmful for your health

17.   You have healthy relaxation strategies in place

18.   You understand that each cigarette has several poisonous chemicals

19.   You seek professional help to quit

4. Well managed stress 20.   You only take as much responsibility as you can handle

21.   You know your stress triggers and your reactions to them

22.   You do not mask your emotions and feelings

23.   You manage your stress with exercise/yoga/meditation etc.

24.   You recognize that mental health problems are not a stigma

25.   You seek help and give yourself a chance to feel better

5. Good sleep habits 26.   You understand that sleep is as essential for us as water and food

27.   You avoid viewing bright digital screens late into the evening

28.   You get 6-8 hours of sleep on most nights

29.   You avoid energy/stimulant drinks and go for fresh homemade ones

30.   You only take sleeping pills when prescribed and for short periods