For most office workers, it is not unusual to be stuck at a desk for 7 to 8 hours a day: it’s part of everyday life. However, “everyday life” may not be particularly good for you: sitting at a computer all day leads to backache (due to poor posture), eye strain, and more. It doesn’t need to be this way, though. If you’re one of these people, here are some simple steps to combat the ill effects of being sedentary.
- Correct posture: Sit properly: your back should be straight, your shoulders back, and the top of your monitor should be level with your eyes. If you need to move your head up or down, then you need to adjust the height of your screen. Try and type with your wrists off the table, keyboard or mouse mat. Keep your legs bent at the knees so that your knees are level with or only slightly higher than your hips. Feet should be flat on the floor or on a footrest of some kind.
- Easy stretching exercises:
- Neck: to stretch your neck, first slowly flex your head forward and backward, then from side to side, and finally turn your head right and left a few times. This can be done at virtually any moment to lessen tension and strain. Never roll your head around your neck––this can damage neck joints.
- Shoulders: to relieve tension in your shoulders, roll your shoulders forward around 10 times, then backward.
- Arms and shoulders: brace your hands on the edge your desk, each about a shoulder width away from your body. Twist your hands in so they point toward your body and lean forward, hunching your shoulders. Take this a step further and push your shoulders and elbows closer to the desk.
- Wrists: roll your wrists frequently if your hands feel stiff, 10 times clockwise then 10 times anticlockwise.
- Taking breaks: stand up regularly and move around to stimulate blood circulation in your arms and legs, which will keep them from getting too tired. Walk to the water distributor; take a short walk outside, and/or use the stairs instead of the elevator. Aside from gently working out your legs and heart, the fresh air and the break will help you relax.
Take advantage of downtime when you’re unable to work, for whatever reason. Get up and take a short walk. If you have the space and privacy, maybe try a few push-ups or sit-ups. Enough to feel your muscles work, but not enough to break a sweat; the office isn’t really the place.
- Other good habits:
- Take a few deep breaths: to work your abdominal muscles, hold your breath for a few seconds when breathing in, then release when exhaling. If possible, get some fresh air from outside, as mentioned previously.
- Drink throughout the day: if you do this regularly, you will begin to feel more alert. If you have a water distributor, keep a cup or glass next to you, not a water bottle. Why? This will oblige you to get up and walk to the water distributor for a refill, encouraging you to exercise and stretch.
Photo credit: thepatrick via Visualhunt / CC BY