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Telecommuting Health and Wellness: Physical Health

Staying Healthy During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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 It is always important to stay healthy by eating right, exercising, drinking lots of water, and getting plenty of sleep each night. This is especially true during this national health emergency, which has forced many people to isolate and telecommute.

Explore the resources in this guide to learn more about how to stay physically healthy.

Staying Active

According to CNN Health, "Coronavirus concerns, social distancing, gym closures and home confinement may tempt you to just curl up on the couch and binge-watch Netflix, or lose yourself all day in a great novel. But regular exercise is essential for supporting healthy immune function; preventing weight gain (which can impair immune function); boosting your mood; and keeping you as healthy as possible (and out of the hospital or emergency room) during this challenging global pandemic. With the world feeling a bit out of your control, now is the perfect time to take control of your health by building daily exercise into your schedule."

  • Aim to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day.
  • Limit prolonged sedentary behavior (aka sitting for long periods of time).
    • Get up and stretch your legs every once in a while.
    • Go outside and take walking breaks during the day (keeping a safe distance from people).
  • Outdoor exercise, like walking, running, biking, etc., also has the added benefit of providing vitamin D.
  • If you don't want to go outside, take advantage of what is available at home.
    • Take advantage of online exercise videos and classes (many of which are free).

Ergonomics and Safety at Home

The basic rules of office ergonomic should be applied to your home office, just as they are at work. It is beneficial if a room, or area of a room, can be designated as your workspace. Pay close attention to your posture and make sure you take short breaks throughout the day. If you are working on a laptop, use a docking station. If that is not available to you, an external mouse and keyboard will be a big improvement.

Avoiding Weight Gain

You've likely heard of the term "Freshmen 15" before. It is a common expression that refers to weight gain during a student's first year at college. The new term "Quarantine 15" is something similar, but it applies to the countless individuals and families who are now telecommuting and/or stuck at home.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), if "you’re currently at a healthy weight, you’re already one step ahead of the game. To stay at a healthy weight, it’s worth doing a little planning now. Or maybe you are overweight but aren’t ready to lose weight yet. If this is the case, preventing further weight gain is a worthy goal."

The CDC provides further guidance on:

9 Ways to Avoid the "Quarantine 15"

Tina Hreso, a registered dietitian, (via the website Novant Health), offers nine tips on how to avoid weight gain during COVID-19:

  1. Create an eating pattern where you have a meal or snack about every three hours. This can help prevent mindless snacking.
  2. Keep a food journal – tracking the time of day, the food and the amount – to hold yourself accountable.
  3. Limit snacking of highly processed foods such as chips and cookies. If you don’t buy it, you can’t eat it.
  4. Portion out your snacks. Place cheese and crackers, for example, in individual bags to prevent overeating.
  5. Drink at least 64 ounces of water each day to stay hydrated and keep your body’s systems functioning normally; consider adding things like mint, cucumber or ginger. Avoid sugary beverages.
  6. Practice mindful eating. Ask yourself, “Why am I reaching for this?” or “Has it been three hours since my last meal or snack?”
  7. Stay active. Lay out a yoga mat, walk up and down the stairs, stream a workout online or dust off your old workout tapes.
  8. Call or FaceTime a friend or family member to talk about your emotions. Getting your feelings out can help curb emotional eating.
  9. Buy food that comes from the earth – fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains and lean protein [aka eat lots of fruits and vegetables].

According to Yale Medicine, "[when] you are managing new stresses—like being isolated or working at home for an extended period—it may be helpful to start identifying the circumstances that tend to make you want to overeat… Times of stress and change can disrupt healthy behaviors—and that can lead to weight gain…"

Yale Medicine also includes the following tips to avoid stress eating include:

  • Plan your snacks and your meals.
  • Instead of planning meals around a set of ingredients, plan around the foods you have available for consumption.
  • If you feel you need to stockpile food, make sure to store that food away so it is not readily available.
  • Boredom is often a trigger for impulsive snacking, so try to keep busy.
  • Creating routines for eating, working, exercise, and play is also important.

Planning and preparing meals/ snacks ahead of time is a great way to avoid eating unhealthy foods, stress eating, etc. Explore the resources below to learn more.

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