You’ve undoubtedly heard that frequently staying seated for prolonged periods is no good for you, and that there are plenty of ways working at a computer can mess you up. Extended inactivity, poor posture, unnatural arm and leg positions, and other aspects of staying put at a desk for most of the workday and work week can cause headaches, neck and back pain, other aches and pains, weight gain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and additional complications—even increased risk of a chronic diseases and a shorter life expectancy.
So, since sitting in the same place for hours at a time is such an integral part of so many people’s work life these days, here are some health tips for sitting at a desk all day.
Self-Care Practices for Office Workers
- Stand up frequently throughout the day, and stay on your feet for a while. Consider getting an adjustable desk or computer stand that lets you alternate between working while seated and standing.
- Stretch, too. Whenever you get up, do some arm, leg, neck, and back stretches. Shake your limbs and move around your office a little.
- Find excuses to walk as often as you can. For example, when you’re thinking or talking on the phone, pace around the office. Go see other people in the workplace rather than email, call, or text them. Take occasional strolls down the hall. Skip the escalator or elevator and go up and down the stairs instead. Park far from the building entrance.
- Bounce your knees up and down while seated at your desk. Yes, even this seemingly insignificant movement is better for you than sitting still.
- Sit up straight in your chair with your shoulders relaxed but pushed back. Keep your feet flat on the floor and facing forward. Your arms and wrists should be straight—not slanted upward or downward—while you type on the keyboard and operate the mouse, and your forearms should be supported by your chair arms or desk.
- The computer screen should be approximately arm’s length from your face to prevent eye strain. Also, position it so that you don’t have to angle your neck up or down more than a tiny bit (around a 10-degree angle or more is definitely too much).
- Add some live plants to your office. It’s good for your environment and your mood.
- Eat a nutritious breakfast and lunch that includes lean protein, whole grains, heart-healthy unsaturated fats, and fruit and/or vegetables. Good nutrition is essential to your ability to focus, energy levels, immune function, maintenance of a healthy weight, and more.
- Regularly disinfect the doorknobs and handles in your office, your computer keyboard and mouse, and your landline phone buttons and receiver. These places harbor lots of pathogens that can get you sick. Disinfectant wipes are a convenient and effective option you can keep stashed in your desk drawer.