As of 2013, roughly 86% of working Americans held a job that requires 8-10 hours of sitting. Most likely if you work, it involves putting in your hours from behind a desk and while that initially sounds better then slaving away doing manual labor, there are actually a lot of health risks associated with sitting for much of the day. As someone who’s worked from home for the past 4 years, I’ve found some helpful tips that will help you survive those long hours spent in your desk chair.
1. Get Up. Frequently.
Long stretches spent sitting behind the computer aren’t just restricting for your body, but your mind too. It’s wise to get up and move around at least once per hour. You will give your back and neck a break, not to mention your brain a reprieve from constant concentration. You don’t need to take a long break- even 5 minutes is enough to be rejuvenated. Stretch out your limbs and step away from the desk physically for a complete and total break.
2. Give Your Eyes A Rest
In our day and age, we spent countless hours staring at computers, phones, tablets and televisions. Over the years, physicians have started to coin eye pain and problems associated with prolonged exposure to screens as Computer Vision Syndrome. The constant stress of our eyes needing to focus and move can lead to fatigue and the need for glasses over time. Some of this is just inevitable- but what you do on breaks and at home is up to you. Instead of checking your Facebook at lunch, have a conversation with a person face to face. Don’t flip on the TV the minute you get home, get outside and give your eyes a much needed break! Even small amounts of time away from a screen will do your eyes good.
3. Adjust Your Font
Speaking of eye problems, squinting at minuscule font is nothing but harmful to your eyes. Constant squinting can cause headaches and eye fatigue, neither of which you want while you’re trying to work. You can easily adjust the font size on your computer, or better yet- invest in a large monitor. For over 2 years I worked solely from a 13-inch laptop screen and when I started to experience constant headaches and neck pain, I realized that was just too small for full time work (leisure Internet surfing was just fine). After getting a 25-inch monitor, my eyes were literally opened! I no longer have regular back problems and I actually feel more productive.
4. Use A Foam Roller
Sitting for long periods of time tends to compact your body, and you probably end up feeling cramped and tight. A great way to relieve stress is to use a foam roller, like this one. There are many ways to use a foam roller, but one of the best is to roll your back over the roller to stretch out your muscles that get crimped while sitting at a desk. You will hear all sorts of lovely cracks and most importantly, your back muscles will be loosened. You will have fewer headaches and much less soreness.
5. Use A Stand Up Desk
In our modern age, it’s not uncommon to see offices with yoga ball chairs or stand up desks- and with good reason. Improving our posture while working is a good thing and helps you be more productive. A great option is a stand up desk like one. Stand Up Desks are designed to be used for both sitting and standing, and its the option to stand that brings value. When you simply can’t stand to sit anymore (no pun intended) just raise up the desk and keep working! You will be more productive because your body is getting the stretching it needs, without long breaks. The health benefits are enormous: you will have a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity, Type II Diabetes and cancer. Need any more convincing?
6. Exercise Frequently
There are times your body is literally craving for vigorous exercise and you need to listen to it. On the days you’ve had to finish a huge project and spent the better part confined to your desk, take a long run after work. Instead of watching TV, do a workout video. Get outside with your kids and be active. Despite feeling exhausted, your body needs to burn off everything it hasn’t been able to all day, and as a result you will actually feel invigorated!
7. Have A Good Desk Set Up
Your workspace is important in being a productive employee, and that includes your desk. Keeping it free from clutter so you actually have space to work is key. Get a monitor stand to give you more room and to be better on the eyes. Make sure you have holders for office supplies so you don’t have pens and paper clips strewn about. Install your keyboard and mouse in your desk tray so its more ergonomically correct, and clean up at the end of each week. Working in a well designed space that lends itself to productivity is just as important for your mental health as an employee, as your physical health!