For many people, much of the workday takes place in front of the computer. In fact, 81% of office workers spend between four and nine hours a day sitting at their desks. This adds up to 67 sedentary days annually, according to a survey released by office equipment firm Fellowes. Unfortunately, sitting for too long can increase your risk of chronic health problems like heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers. Whether you’re making a return to the office or continuing to work from home, now is a great time to assess your workspace and put any damaging habits you formed during the pandemic in check.
Perfect Your Posture
Good posture is about much more than just sitting up straight. The term actually refers to the way you hold your body while you sit, stand, or lie down. However, anyone who has ever worked in an office is well aware that it’s the way we sit that tends to create problems.
Keeping your feet flat and positioning your hips slightly above the knees will support the spine and the rest of the upper body, including your head. As a result, your joints are protected as you type, answer the phone, or perform other tasks at your desk. Practicing good posture at your desk is also an important component of body language, since it can impact your confidence and shape how you are perceived by others.
Setup for Success
It can be tempting to slump over in your favorite comfy chair, especially if you’re working from home. However, it’s doing you no favors when it comes to helping your back health, and the same goes for choosing a stylish chair that doesn’t provide a suitable level of support. Like many things, chairs and desks are not one-size-fits-all; the ideal seat depth and width vary by person, and the height of your desk should allow your arms and wrists to sit in the correct position, forming a right angle. Some people find footrests, seat cushions, and monitor stands to be tremendously helpful when customizing their setups to best fit their bodies. Clearly, employees see high-quality setups as an indicator that their employer is willing to invest in them. The same Fellowes study previously mentioned found that 85% of those surveyed said providing better ergonomic equipment would help show their employer cared.
Eyes on the Prize
It’s not just your back that needs to be cared for while you work. Spending so much time at your computer can be harmful to your eyes for a variety of reasons. Excessive blue light waves can cause vision problems and disrupt sleep and sitting too close to the computer screen can strain the eyes. Make sure you’re sitting at least 20 inches away from the computer screen, and practice the 20-20-20 rule, where you make sure to look 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds every 20 minutes to reduce eye strain. Also, blue light blocking glasses have special lenses that lower your exposure to harm. There are many different options to choose from, ranging from inexpensive picks to stylish designer brands.
Keep it Moving
It’s no secret that sitting all day long at a desk without taking any breaks can be hazardous to your health. In fact, the CDC states that taking a break to stand frequently throughout the day can have significant benefits. Many people choose accessories like sit-to-stand desks, elevated monitor stands, and under-desk pedal exercisers that encourage small habits to improve circulation throughout the workday. That said, it’s not mandatory that you purchase fancy equipment to stay healthy at your desk. There are many stretches you can do without breaking a sweat that help to prevent aches and pains and stay limber. Take a look at short videos like this one that offer easy movements you can do while sitting in your chair or during a quick break. If desk yoga isn’t your thing, simply take a break and go for a walk around the block. With the summer weather ahead, a little extra sunshine and fresh air can make a serious difference.
Often, we think of employee wellness as being group fitness classes or healthy snacks in the break room. But with so much of our day spent at a desk, even tiny changes you implement into your regimen go a long way when it comes to positively affecting happiness and health in the long run.
Portions of this article originally appeared on the CRESA website.
The Sundance Company
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