Nano Workouts – Conference Call Push-ups

Following on from the thought that sitting is killing us I’ve been thinking about the different ways that I can counteract my personal inactivity.

While doing some research (sitting down) I came across a site called Nano Workout which produces regular pictures of exercise ideas for the office or home.

Today’s idea is Conference Call Push-ups:

I can’t see myself doing this in the office, at home maybe, but not in the office. The culture is such that this would be regarded as a totally mad thing to do, but perhaps that will change. Once upon a time it was regarded as acceptable to smoke in the office, now it’s illegal. I regularly walk around while on a conference call, so perhaps push-ups aren’t too mad an idea.

Sorting out sitting – before it kills me

There have been a number of articles in recent days about the dangers of sitting for long periods of the day, dangers that are serious and include a higher risk of death.

Global RainbowI, like many workers, spend much of my time sitting. If I’m working at home – I’m sitting at a desk. If I’m in the office – I’m sitting at a desk. If I’m in a meeting – I’m sitting at a table. Sitting, sitting, sitting. I’ve written before about my experiences with tension headaches which are primarily caused by issues of posture – posture while sitting. While these headaches are mostly under control, I’ve not yet managed to change my lifestyle sufficiently for me to remove all medicinal support, so sitting is still a problem.

Tom Ferris has a great post summarising the emerging evidence that inactivity, and sitting specifically, is a problem, but also what one organisation did to combat the problem.

Recent research suggests that those who sit from 9-5 (more than 6 hours daily) and exercise regularly are more likely to have heart disease than those who sit less than 3 hours per day and don’t “exercise” at all.

It’s a great shopping list of ideas including:

  • Standing desks
  • Exercise balls
  • Balance cushions
  • Monitors stands
  • Ergonomic keyboard
  • Ergonomic mice
  • Hand grippers
  • Wobble boards
  • Pedometers
  • Shoe options
  • Conference room and meeting configurations
  • Office layout
  • Food and snacks

The important point for me is that good office configurations have a direct payback in terms of productivity. We’ve known this for a long time, and yet many organisations continue to build facilities that have barely changed since the advent of the Personal Computer.

A small number of offices across the country have slowly begun to endorse the idea of exercising during work (e.g. walking on a treadmill while doing your job at Mutual of Omaha). Besides the obvious fitness benefits, exercise also increases productivity (according to research done by the Vermont Board of Education — PDF download).

Most surprising of all, remaking the workplace into a healthy, exercise-supportive environment has a cost benefit. Many of the design changes we have implemented cost little or nothing.

But it’s not just about gadgets, it’s also about culture. There are limits to what I can personally influence, especially in the office, but even then I don’t do what I know is good for me. It’s a change I am having to learn to make though. Which reminds me, I haven’t done my stretches yet today and perhaps it’s time to order an exercise ball.

My New Fear of Working from Home

I have a new fear – I have become afraid of working from home. I’m not talking about a panic type fear this is more of a niggling nag that means I am more likely to choose to go into the office even when I have no need to be there.Tuscany 2009 As I have done today.

As with most fear this new fear of working from home is primarily irrational.

Throughout 2008 and for much of the early part of 2009 I worked from home. This was effective, productive and in many ways less stressful. The facilities are better at home and I get to interact with the family more often. The coffee is certainly better.

So where has this fear come from? There are, as you’d expect, a number of elements.

One of my fears is a distrust of my own self-control. While the working environment at home is much better than it is in the office it is also much more distracting. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve never spent days distracted on things that aren’t work, I’m just worried that I will. Everyone who owns a home knows that there are always jobs to be done. It’s an irrational fear because there are just as many distractions in the office, they just look a bit more like work.

The self control fear also works the other way though, I worry about my ability to constrain work. I can be a bit obsessive about things and it’s easier to be sucked into work when you are working from home. It’s more difficult to shut the door and to declare it finished.

Another fear is the fear of missing out. What if I am missing out on something important or exciting? If I am at home am I always going to be second choice. At the crux it’s a lack of confidence in my own abilities and the value that I bring. If I was confident in my own ability I wouldn’t worry about being left on the sidelines. The irrationality of this fear is that the people who I interact with are rarely in the same office as me even when I am in the office myself.Tuscany 2009

Loneliness is another worry. There have certainly days when I have worked from home where I have taken a walk to the shops mainly to speak face-to-face with someone.

The last fear is a bit more of a personal one and probably the most irrational. In my mind I think that I get more headaches when I work from home, and I also think that these headaches turn into migraines more often at home than in the office. It seems like I’m stating the obvious, but I don’t like migraines and the fear of them can linger at the back of my head. Going into the office lessens that fear.

Am I the only one? Is this something that other home workers feel?

Do I need to just “get back on the bike” and push away my irrational fears?