How to Hit 10k Steps Per Day When Telecommuting

Wellbeing Tips
November 30, 2018

Our content director works from home and finds it’s not easy to get in 10,000 steps a day, but she knows what it takes to get there, and she’s ready to share.

By way of introduction, I work from home, full time. I’ve worked full-time staff from home for years, and for lots of other companies besides Withings. I’m not a hermit, I’m super social, it’s just the way things have worked out. And while I love my co-workers (it’s always awesome when I visit the offices), I also really dig working from home. I love the time it saves me, how little distraction there is, and how I’m part of my community. My neighbors know that if they have a package coming, I’m the gal who will make sure it doesn’t get stolen/rained on.
But that said, even though I save time, I have almost no activity baked into my day. I get dressed (no, I don’t work in my pajamas), I put on makeup (just enough not to scare Paris or Boston on Skype or Google Hangouts), and then I sit down to work. It’s usually very early in the morning—much earlier than people who actually need to show up in an office or don’t need to chat with another continent.
And I sit.
And sit some more.
I don’t even go out for lunch. I have leftovers or I make myself something simple. Then I walk the dog when he scratches me. Then I sit more. Since there’s no place I must go, and since I’ve got tons of things I need and want to get done for work, I am immobile—my own worst boss.
At the end of my work day, I feel super about my work, and then I look at the activity dial on my (warning: product plug coming) Steel HR Sport, and I’m horrified.
I realize that without the dog, my muscles would atrophy and I might grow moss on my north side. Because on a typical workday, I can be at <2000 steps at 6PM.
And when I get that little activity, it’s really hard to sleep. My mind is racing and my body won’t shut off. Our data studies back up my experience. More exercise leads to better sleep, and better sleep = better health.

In contrast, my husband, pictured here enjoying a weekend (while I try to get an Instagram-worthy shot of his Steel HR), goes to work in a typical office. He walks about 25 minutes to the ferry, then he walks a few blocks to the office, and does the same on the way home. He also often goes out of the building to grab lunch. He also walks the dog at night, but he makes at least 10,000 steps every weekday without even trying. It’s super annoying.
In this other study we did about the secret to making 10,000 steps a day, we found that people who regularly make their goal do it Monday-Friday. Yup, just like my man. He also never has weight gain, and he eats a lot (and not just because I’m an awesome cook).

How to make your step goal less remote when you’re a remote worker

When I realized how little I was moving, and how bad I was feeling, and how the scale number was creeping up, I made a change. I can’t say I do it every day, but most days, yes, I cracked the code. I found I must consciously bake activity into the day.
So now, I walk my kids to school and walk them home from aftercare on any day it’s not a total downpour or I don’t have an early meeting that conflicts. It’s about 4,000 steps each way, and my Withings watch tells me it’s almost 20 minutes of moderate heart rate each way. Look at my activity graph on a typical weekday: I am a total writing potato in between my walks to school. I literally do not move. And the nighttime activity I’ve added in (more on that below) is the only thing that can get me to goal.
I also give my dog a longer walk. Before, I walked him midday just enough to get him off my case. Now, my lunch walk is not just for him, it’s for me. Instead of doing 2 blocks, I’ll walk to see a view, or I’ll go do a dog-friendly errand like pick up dry cleaning, hit the pet store (the dog is into that), or visit the ATM machine. Since I never need to get lunch, I make “lunch” about getting steps in. Due to meetings and work, I don’t always do it (sorry, dog) but it’s always something I try to do.
After work I try to walk, not drive, to a friend’s house or kid activity, and I’ve also found the joy of taking a fitness class at night. My local studio, Clarity Fitness, has a great reggae dance class at 8PM. Although experts warn about getting too much activity just before bed, I love serious dancing in the dark with disco lights for an hour. Then they give you a cold herbal towel, and then I come home and take a shower. After that I feel amazing and totally wiped out.
(You might also notice I was up past midnight the night before, which is usually me working setting up things for Paris before they come into the office. Yes, I don’t get nearly enough sleep on weekdays, but this article is about activity so… let’s move on, shall we?)

Setting future goals is key

Yes, this is me before a costumed 5k run.
Yes, this is me before a costumed 5k run.

On top of that, I’ve had to set activity goals. I’m not a naturally fit person. Without a challenge, I’m likely to do anything other than exercise (reading! cooking! performing!). That’s why I sign up for charity races, like the costumed 5k I did in October. Running a 5k is a challenge for me, and when I raise money for a good cause, I feel compelled to not back out/actually run it. Sure I’m slow, but the training does improve my ability, and that naturally ups my steps. And I also join virtual challenges (like this one we’re doing to make 10,000 steps every day for a week) to keep myself going.
The struggle is real. An object at rest tends to remain at rest. And while a work-from-home situation is sweet, you can’t forget that your body always needs to go to work, even if you don’t.
I think this is where I drop the mic?
But seriously, I hope this is helpful, and if you have any tips to help WFH people like me, I’d love to hear them. Hit us up on social @Withings on Facebook and Instagram and @WithingsEN on Twitter.