Sitting at a desk all day is probably the worst thing you can do for your health. The average office worker sits for 9.7 hours each day and after one hour of sitting the production of enzymes that burn fat declines by as much as 90 percent, significantly slowing metabolism. Then there’s ongoing back pain and eye strain. What’s the modern office worker to do?
If you have to sit at a desk all day, you might as well do so properly. Here are four ways to optimally set up your workspace. In addition to this being a good move for your health, you’ll be setting yourself up for increased comfort and productivity.
Getting Your Chair Just Right
First off, if your chair is uncomfortable, then you need a different chair. Now, we’re not suggesting you go out and get a La-Z-Boy for your desk (as cool as that would be), but you should at least sit in some kind of chair with enough padding that your back isn’t hurting at the end of the day. Ideally, you’ll want a chair with armrests bent at a 90 degree angle. Also, look for a chair that has lumbar support and adjustable settings for the backrest, height, and angle. Remember, the goal here is to have a chair that provides you with an upright posture throughout the workday--not a bed that will put you to sleep.
Desktop Hardware Placement is Key
It should feel natural for you to use your computer. The best way to achieve this is by lining up your keyboard’s “B” keys and mouse with your navel, and your keyboard should be as close to your body as comfortably possible. Heightwise, position your keyboard so that you’re bending your elbows, not your wrist. For your monitor, make sure that the top edge is two or three inches above your eyeline, and make sure that it’s reflecting as little glare as possible. To give you a picture of what we’re talking about, check out this chart.
Be Deliberate About Good Posture
Even if you have an ergonomic chair and desk and your computer equipment is positioned perfectly, all of this won’t matter if you’re not intentional about having good posture. If you’re used to slouching, this bad habit may take some help from your coworkers to break. For example, asking them to remind you to sit up straight if they catch you slouching may seem annoying at first, but it will help cement a good habit that will have far-reaching benefits for your health.
Be Sure to Take Breaks
Even though it feels counterproductive, taking breaks actually improves productivity and it’s good for your health. You’ll want to avoid being so locked into your task that you never look away from your screen, and you’ll want to get up from your desk from time to time and take a walk around the room or stretch. There are actually several useful apps that will help you achieve this. One good app is StretchClock, designed to remind you when to take a break by providing a short tutorial video of different stretches that you can do.
At the end of the day, these are all fairly minor actions you can take that will yield major results in terms of increased comfort, productivity, and improved health. Try these tips out for yourself and let us know in the comments if you feel any different.