It’s no secret that the 8-hour working day exists only on paper. During the era of remote work, many of us work extremely hard. It seems that remote working is now with us for a long time. Staying fit and healthy when working full time is difficult, but it’s even tougher when you have moved abroad. How do you fit exercise when working full time? And what is the impact of remote work on staying fit and healthy?
In this article, we have brought together everything you need to know to turn the home office into an effective work format – and how to maintain health, strength, and joy during work hours at the same time. We want you to get enough sleep, become calmer and develop good habits while working remotely as an expat if suddenly your remote work experience has become not so rosy. We will also cover how to fit in exercise when working full time.
How to stay fit when working full-time as an expat
In 2020, many believed that remote work had practically no drawbacks: no need to spend time and money on the commute, follow a dress code, communicate in smoking rooms, and in general, you can work from anywhere in the world.
The pandemic has shown that in reality there are some disadvantages. No need to spend money on the road – but it is necessary to equip the workplace. Less communication in smoking rooms – but more meaningless phone calls and team meetings.
The SuperJob study from December 2020 demonstrated that most professionals faced the same problems:
- The working day has stopped being normal (37% of respondents)
- It is impossible to separate home and work (31%)
- It became more difficult to communicate with colleagues, for example, due to Internet connection issues (28%)
- You are constantly distracted at home (26%)
- Your home-working lifestyle began to affect health (19%), and you devote much less time to your appearance and physical fitness (14%)
- There is much more temptation to procrastinate at home(13%).
So, how can you stay fit and find time to exercise when working full time in these days of remote work?
1/ Don’t sacrifice sleep
Lack of sleep during a month will lead to irritation, dissatisfaction, bad mood, difficulty concentrating, and as a result, burnout. Studies show that lack of sleep increases the risk of developing heart and vascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and being overweight or obese.
Quality sleep should be 7-9 hours long, without problems falling asleep, in silence and coolness. To improve the quality of sleep:
- Use comfortable pillows and mattresses and take care of good bedding. This will help you relax better and avoid back pain.
- Remove all light sources, and use blackout curtains, because even slight light can disrupt circadian rhythms.
- It is also better to remove unnecessary sounds. Good quality windows, doors, and earplugs will help sleep better.
- Find a suitable temperature for falling asleep; usually, around 18 degrees Celsius is recommended, but it is better to focus on your own feelings so that it is neither too cold nor too hot
- Get in the habit of waking up at the same time every day.
What to do before bed
- Ventilate the room. A little fresh air will help you fall asleep.
- Put your laptop and smartphone in “night mode”. It is better to do this 3 – 4 hour before bedtime to eliminate the influence of the cold screen light. It is most convenient to set automatic switching to night mode depending on the time of day.
- Avoid gadgets an hour before bedtime. You can read a nice book, do a light stretch, or take a bath. Just a couple of days without falling asleep with the phone and you will immediately feel the difference.
- Dim the lighting. You can use special smart nightlights that regulate the level of light themselves. Almost everything can be configured through an application on a smartphone: at a certain time in the morning, the night light will turn on slowly, simulating dawn and making it easier to wake up.
2/ Find time to fit in exercise when working full time
Physical activity is useful not only for the body, but also for the mind: it allows you to switch from mental activity, free yourself from an endless stream of information, and refresh your eyes on familiar tasks. Walking and sports are great relaxation for the brain. It is also great for your mental health. Most likely, 20 minutes of yoga will bring more new ideas than 20 minutes in front of a laptop screen.
Working full-time from the office
Office work makes us move more, it’s a fact: the commute from home to work, the gym at or near the office, shopping after work, or walking home. If you are working full time from the office, you could fit exercise by:
Joining a gym
There may be a gym close to your work, or you could even have access to gym facilities at work. Many businesses now provide fitness facilities on-site for their employees to use. So, whether you exercise before work, on your lunch break, or before you go home, factoring just 30 minutes into your working day will have a significant impact on your health, fitness, and overall mood.
Keeping your gym shoes and sports kit in your car
Small reminders can make a big difference in keeping fit. For example, it may be a good idea to keep your gym bag in the car, or at work. If you have to go home to change and collect your gym essentials, there is a chance you will just stay there.
Cycling to work
When it’s cold outside, and you have a car in the driveway, it’s easy to see why many of us jump in the car to drive to work. Driving to work is usually the easiest option in terms of punctuality, particularly for those with a long commute ahead.
But if it is realistic, you could beat the traffic and improve your health by cycling to work. This is a great way of factoring exercise into your working day – even if only a couple of days a week.
Working full-time from home or remotely
Those who switched to remote work and locked themselves with a laptop within four walls often put off sports and walks. Sooner or later the body will let you know that it wants to move. Loss of productivity, headaches, and poor sleep – are all consequences of a lack of activity in life.
Use fitness apps
There are many innovative and exciting fitness apps that are great for keeping you motivated throughout the day and making sure that you stick to your regime.
When you have a million and one things to think about, anything will help. There are also many apps that help you to track your workouts and keep a count of how many steps you have taken throughout the day. Try to find time for short workouts from home. Here are our favorite YouTube channels with short workouts from 10 to 30 minutes:
- Pamela Reif
Active training without equipment. Most of the videos are without a voice – music plays, and a timer is set for each exercise. A separate pleasure is the quality of shooting.
Yoga and Pilates for all levels of training. The calm atmosphere and the pleasant voice of the coach are very inviting.
- Boho Beautiful Yoga
One of the most popular yoga channels on YouTube. Workouts are more suitable for those who already practice yoga. Videos were filmed in stunning locations around the world.
Mostly without equipment, but there are also basic ones like dumbbells and fitness rubber bands.
Read more about how physical activity affects your health and well-being
3/ Nutrition and eating healthy when working full time
With the transition to remote work, more than half of the workers have changed their diet. The combination of irregular eating with lack of sleep and not an active lifestyle can lead to excessive weight gain or weight loss and worsen health. However, taking care of yourself doesn’t mean sticking to healthy eating at all costs, sometimes an extra hour of sleep or delivery will do more for you than all the salads in the world. It will help you to stay fit and healthy when working full time.
Order food delivery and meal subscriptions
The need to constantly cook something, if you used to eat ready-made meals, can really hit your morale. So feel free to help yourself in every way you can: sign up for a cooking class to quickly learn new recipes, order a ready-made lunch, a menu subscription, or order groceries with recipes.
Pack your lunch
Nutrition is a huge part of staying fit. Those of us who work from the office on large business sites or at inner-city locations will be surrounded by a huge number of fast food outlets. Taking your lunch to work each day helps to avoid the necessity of buying food near the office. To ensure that you don’t forget, always prepare your food the night before.
Schedule meal time as a separate task on your to-do list
Put lunch on your calendar so your co-workers won’t be tempted to call you at that time. The ideal option is to set reminders for all your meals so you don’t skip them and then go to bed hungry – or full.
Drinking enough water
Put water next to your desk. If the water balance in the body is replenished, the body will feel better.
Read more about How much water does our body need and what for?
4/ Support and take care of yourself when working full time
To support and self-care, try focusing on these simple guidelines:
- Arrange separate work in the house to separate work and leisure spaces.
- Eat a balanced diet and drink enough water – this will allow you to feel good during the working day and will positively affect your health.
- Movement is a good opportunity to reset your head and improve your well-being.
- Go offline if possible. Live communication is a source of energy and an opportunity to share your joys and anxieties with someone, and to stop feeling isolated.
- Make self-care a part of your daily schedule: schedule time for walks, rest, lunch, and cooking, and fit small pleasures into the schedule, even if they don’t seem “productive” at all, like sticking on your phone or watching a new series.
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Staying fit when working full-time abroad
Take your time
Even small changes can have a massive impact on your health. So when you first start exercising, it’s important that you pace yourself. Commitment is great, but you don’t want to burn yourself out in the early stages of your fitness journey. For example, start by going to the gym a few times a week and, as your fitness levels improve, you can then start to exercise more frequently.
Take things slowly and give your body time to adjust to your new regime. Even taking a short walk on your lunch break can make a big difference.
Working full-time abroad can be challenging. But no matter where you go, you can take one thing off your mind. William Russell offers international health insurance that covers you for everything from minor injuries to long hospital stays, and we can even offer medical evacuations to patients who require treatment in other countries.
This article is part of our series of guides to expat life. It’s just for general information, and we don’t provide professional advice on keeping fit and healthy when working full time or moving abroad (we’re an expat insurance provider). We update this article regularly to keep it as useful as possible, but if you want to know more – please seek independent advice.