If you have an office job of any sort, chances are you spend a lot of time sitting behind a desk working on a computer. It’s a big part of many jobs. This can have real consequences for your health.
Here are a few suggestions to minimize the damage to your body from spending hours behind a desk, and help you lead a healthier workday.
First, make sure to take time to move. A good rule of thumb is to stand up and walk around or stretch at least once every hour. This doesn't have to be anything fancy. A trip to the bathroom or the water fountain counts, although the more movement, the better. Sitting for long uninterrupted periods puts a great deal of stress on our bodies, so it’s important to break those up.
Second, arrange your desk to better support you. How your mouse, keyboard and computer screen are positioned can actually make a big difference in the amount of strain your body undergoes. Ideally, the left edge of your keyboard and the right edge of your mousepad should be about shoulder width apart. They should be only an inch or two above your lap while sitting — experts recommend either adjusting the height of your desk or using a slide out keyboard tray.
Meanwhile, your screen should be about an arm’s length in front of you. If you can reach out and just touch it with the tips of your fingers, that’s perfect. Any further away can lead to you straining your neck trying to see it properly.
Third, pay attention to your chair and your posture. You want to sit so all your vertebrae are stacked one on top of another, with your feet resting on the floor. A good chair should accommodate this, offering lumbar support and adjustable height. If sitting this way feels uncomfortable, it’s a good idea to start exercising your core muscles more regularly, as this takes pressure off the spine. This is also a good time to get a chiropractic adjustment — your spine is probably out of alignment.
Paying a little attention to your workspace and working to make it more supportive to your body is worth doing. It’ll reduce wear and tear on your back, and help you feel healthier and more comfortable.