Despite the initial image of digital nomad lifestyle as one that is continually active — working online can quickly become sedentary and unhealthy. However, there are things you can do to combat this. I’m very excited to share this article on staying healthy as a digital nomad by Sam from FeelingFit.info. Enjoy!
The Digital Nomad lifestyle has many upsides. Remaining unattached to a single work location allows you to travel or live wherever you want. However, digital work leads to hours sitting in front of your laptop.
Like any choice, there are pros and cons. How does this decision affect your health and well-being? Especially when you take into account the recent studies suggesting that sitting is the new smoking.
Why Prolonged Sedentary Time Is A Problem & How To Solve It
Research indicates that hours of uninterrupted sitting is not good for the body. One study found prolonged sitting increases the risk of disease even for regular exercisers. This 2015 study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, defines prolonged sitting as more than 8 hours a day. Regular workouts help, but are usually not enough avoid the consequences of prolonged sitting.
Some press articles hyped the study’s findings that regular workouts do not negate the problems of prolonged sitting. Regular workouts do improve the fitness of your muscles, heart and lungs. Your fitness building workouts also give you stamina to travel, work, and play. Each active moment is beneficial. The point is that a few hours a week of exercise do not make up for the 40 or more sedentary hours.
You can prevent some of these adverse effects with frequent mild-to-moderate physical activity. Experts recommend moving every hour or even every half hour if possible. The goal is in intersperse at least four minutes of activity for each sedentary hour.
Getting enough activity is a challenge that writers, designers, and other freelancers face. Digital nomads have the freedom and creativity to solve this problem!
Benefits To Adding More Activity Throughout The Day Or Week
Unbroken periods of sitting lead to elevated blood sugar levels. This may cause an increased risk of insulin resistance and type two diabetes. The Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Australia found breaking up periods of sitting with moderate activity improves blood sugar levels. The subjects in their study were middle-aged, overweight people. Other studies have also indicated preventative health benefits of an active lifestyle.
Moving and walking throughout the day might even boost your productivity. According to a 2014 study by Marily Oppezzo and Daniel L. Schwartz of Stanford University, walking boosts creativity by up to 60 percent. The increase in creativity happens during the activity and shortly after. The study only looked at walking. It is likely the creativity boosting benefits apply to other types of exercise.
Hacks To Fit More Activity Into Your Day Without Compromising Productivity:
- Simulate a daily commute. If you are working from home or a hotel adding some activity before and after your workday will do wonders. Working at a park, library or coffee shop today? Walk, cycle, skate or ski if you can.
- Move every hour or every half hour. A Pomodoro Method Timer can help. The Pomodoro method is a productivity tool. You concentrate on your work for 25 minutes then you take a five-minute break. Every four Pomodoro cycles, you take a 15-minute break. I find this method works well for writing and many other sedentary tasks. During the five minutes, I do some mild activity or body weight exercises.
- Get a change of scene. If you are working in a cafe or coffee shop then changing tables or work venues. This breaks up sedentary time and may enhance creativity.
- Find ways to decrease sedentary busy work. Anything that can save time spent sedentary will help. Some people prefer to outsource some tasks. Others may look for time-saving hacks. For example, Siri, Dragon or other dictation apps allow you to dictate notes or drafts.
- Look for a standing workstation. If you work in an office or home office, you can set up a standing workstation. This isn’t always an option for digital nomads, but with a little creativity, you may find a solution. Some cafes have barista height tables that work as a standing workstation for your laptop. Standing uses the muscles a little differently that sitting. Alternating between sitting and standing may mitigate some of the adverse effects of prolonged sitting.
- Be sure to reserve time to explore your area. Working digitally allows you to plan for off days. You can hike, swim, boat, ski or take part in other local recreation activities. Since you set your schedule, you can choose less crowded days if you wish or you may choose the prime days for the best social opportunities.
- Plan your fitness building workouts. Many gyms or studios offer affordable short-term or drop in membership rates. Also, body weight exercises are an effective conditioning option that requires no equipment. You can build a travel gym with inexpensive suspension trainers, gliding discs, jump ropes and resistance bands. These allow you to set up a mobile gym in a hotel room, hostel, Airbnb, or a local park. By reserving 20-30 minutes a few days a week, you can maintain or improve your fitness. Maintaining your physical fitness empowers you to enjoy your recreation and exploration.
The digital nomad lifestyle offers opportunities to explore new places and thoroughly enjoy life. Even so, the sedentary nature of most digital work has health consequences. Mitigate these effects by weaving activity throughout the day.
About the author: Sam Sly is a freelance writer and blogger. She edits www.feelingfit.info — an active lifestyle blog about “feeling fit” and enjoying life. You can find her on Twitter @SlysamBlog
I usually move around every hour or so. I don’t get as much exercise as I should. Another big thing I try to do is look away from my computer 10 feets for 10 seconds every 10 minutes. It’s help me refocus and puts less strain on my eyes.
I agree. This is a great suggestion! Thanks for sharing Josh. I’ve realized that days I work from a view my eyes feel a lot better than when I’m staring at the wall in front of my desk.
Hi Josh! I love your tip about looking away from the computer to refocus the eyes. Thanks! –Sam Sly
Just came across this post while researching fitness for those who are constantly in a state of travel. After talking with nomads around the world, seems to be a common issues, and I’m glad you are one of the few addressing it! I’m currently working with a team adding exercises to a fitness app that you can do anytime, anywhere with any amount of equipment. It’s turning into a great tool to help nomads stay fit on the road!
Thanks for stopping by and I look forward to seeing your site progress! It’s essential to find ways to stay as healthy as possible while traveling.
Hey I love that someone is talking about this online too! We had a gym in Colombia for nomads and EEEEVERYBODY had the same issue :D. We are now online and created everything for nomads! Check it out: alphamedellin.co
This is great Charlotte! Keep up the hustle and I look forward to seeing your site continue to grow. It’s awesome to find people passionate about keeping all of us healthy.