I think it’s safe to say that most of us find ourselves in front of a computer screen for up to very periods everyday. This has been a personal concern of mine for some time when I think about how much time in a lifetime I might be transfixed to the screen, though I don’t think for many of us there is much of an alternative available as yet.
Therefore, I’ve got together some useful tips for dealing with the negative effects (including eye problems, weight gain, and repetitive strain) of working at your desk for long periods. Obviously I’m not a doctor, so only take these tips as suggestions and not official advice.
The most important tip for staying healthy at your desk is to maintain a correct posture.
Be sure that your body is directly in front of your screen, so you are not twisting your torso. Keep your feet on the floor or on a footrest and try not to cross your legs. It’s easy to slip out of a routine in sitting well, so get something to remind you to sit up on your desk, like a big fluffy banana.
Invest in a Good Chair
The first step to achieving good posture is finding a good chair. It is wise to invest in a chair known for it’s good support for desk-workers such as the Aeron.
Think of how it will help you in the long run. Be sure to choose one with plenty of lumbar support and one that has wheels so you can turn in your desk without twisting your body.
Get an Ergonomic Keyboard
If you’re working on a laptop, this won’t apply to you, but if you’re working on a desktop, take a look at the range of ergonomic keyboards on the market.
Ergonomic keyboards are designed to minimize muscle strain and reduce the chances of developing carpal tunnel syndrome, which can be crippling to some computer workers.
Stop and Stretch Regularly
A quick Google search will reveal a plethora of nutty exercises, exercise equipment, gadgets and other ideas that will help keep you fit at your desk. The majority of them are fairly ludicrous and impractical. However, the ideas are good and it is important to keep mobile at your desk.
The most important exercises you can do involve your feet. Stop every hour or so and make circles with your feet to mobilize your ankles and do foot pumps for example. Place your toes on the ground and lift your ankles in a pumping maneuver. It’s also a good idea to do circles with your hands a couple of times a day to keep your wrists supple.
Avoid Carpal Tunnel with a Wrist Pad
If you’re using a laptop and you are worried about carpal tunnel (yeah, I’d never heard of it either), or you have experienced this at some point, you should think about purchasing a gel wrist pad, which you place just in front of your laptop.
It will help to keep your wrists elevated and comfortable, thus reducing the restriction on the nerves in your hands.
Don’t Eat and Work
One of the greatest problems with desk-based jobs these days is that people are gaining weight through lack of activity and mixing food with working at our desks. Constant grazing while working is a problem for many of us and the bottom line is we’re simply not burning enough calories to justify the amount of food we eat.
Keep eating separate from work, and you’ll find you eat less. Get out and breathe some fresh air on your snack breaks.
Breaks Away From the Computer
Every hour, stand up from the computer and have a short walk around. Heck, throw on some music and have a five-minute dance about. It’ll cheer you up too and clear your head. Take advantage of large downloads or installs on your computer to take a few minutes away from the computer.
Just keep taking breaks at least once an hour. Seriously.
Pumping our bodies with caffeine may help us stay focused for short periods, but you’ll crash after it wears off and you’ll be inclined to keep drinking/eating more. Replace your intake with other things like juice, but ideally:
Drink Plenty of Water
Water is the fuel that will keep you best focused and feeling most vitalized, even though it doesn’t seem so. Water also helps your body stay strong and healthy and will reduce your appetite. Water is gasoline for humans. Drink it and drink it a lot.
Check Your Eyes
Eye health or lack thereof, is another issue facing people who use computers for long hours every day. To ensure optimum eye health, visit your optician for regular check-ups. Noticing deterioration in eyesight quickly is key in maintaining good optical health. If you are prescribed glasses, wear them!
Our eyes need good levels of light to be able to work properly. Make sure the area around your computer is well-lit. If you have access to natural light, use it, but light in addition to the screen is important too.
Look Out of the Window
Every thirty minutes or so, have a look out of the window. If you haven’t the fortune of having a room with a window, get out and train your eyes on something in the distance to redress the balance of looking at things close up.
Combine this with your break if you can. It’s important for you to refocus your eyes regularly to avoid eye strain.
Use an Anti-Glare Screen
Some people find that fitting their computer with an anti-glare screen can help reduce eye strain and headaches from computer use. It will also reduce reflection, which can be a big plus, depending on your working environment.
If you have more ideas for staying healthy at your desk, give us a shout and leave a comment below!