A stretching routine

The growth of self-employment and home-working has resulted in many more individuals potentially spending much of their day in virtual isolation.”

That quote comes from our February 2020 article which examined the challenges of isolation, with particular reference to both homeworking and a House of Lords Science and Technology Committee enquiry into protecting cognitive ability and mental health processes in old age. One year on, and the challenges posed by lockdown and isolation have moved into mainstream consciousness.

Sadly some of the solutions suggested in our previous article such as promoting an active social life have been overtaken by events. And no matter how many online quizzes or get togethers we have, they are not the same as meeting freely with a group of friends or family. Nevertheless, the core of our article, making use of technology to free up personal time, still remains valid. Even something as simple as deploying SMS text messages to remind patients of their appointments could help to free up valuable time. And when health services are working at full stretch, personal time is at a premium.

Online socialising, managing the day-to-day or home schooling aside, what other options are available for those who are locked down or working from home? Well, we may not be able to take part in group sporting activities but the benefit of ongoing physical exercise cannot be underestimated. And that doesn’t just mean getting out for a run or bike ride after work or taking part in an online exercise class.

Sometimes little and often can be of great benefit, particularly if you can incorporate your routine into your working day. So when you have saved yourself five or ten minutes by retrieving a client’s electronically saved file rather than having to find a manual file why not take the opportunity to do a bit of stretching. And when generating an invoice proves to be unnecessary as your client has paid by card in advance of their appointment, take those couple of free minutes to check your desk posture or even just walk up and down your stairs. For those who are working from home or in a mainly desk-based occupation The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) website demonstrates a few ideas for relieving aches and pains.

A study released in January 2021 by the University of Oxford revealed that when it comes to cardiovascular disease ‘every movement counts toward better cardiovascular health’ Admittedly the greatest benefit was seen by those who were the most active; highlighting the benefit of following World Health Organisation guidelines in undertaking at least 150 to 300 minutes of vigorous activity per week.

But when time is at a premium then every opportunity to move and stretch muscles could help. Better still, work some stretching exercises into your daily routine. A couple of minutes here and there won’t noticeably impact your working day but it could help you end that day feeling  a little more refreshed than you would do otherwise. And while you are building that new routine, take the time to ensure that you are also ‘working smarter’; making the most of technology in order to cut down on administrative tasks. Then you may have time for a little more exercise after work.