I’ve been having back and neck issues in the last few months, partly from all the sitting in front of a desk every day. So I’ve been learning a lot about how to take better care of my back while also getting my work done.
Here are the 5 most important tips for staying healthy while sitting at a computer all day.
1. Take regular breaks. At least once an hour. I use a piece of software called Time Out Free (available in the App Store) that allows me to set a break every X minutes, and the break itself lasts X minutes. I can delay or postpone the break if I want (which I am doing too often, admittedly). Don’t forget to look away from the screen at least once an hour too, and focus on something in the distance if you can.
2. Properly position yourself in your chair and desk. Get a chair and desk that allow you to have your elbows above your wrists when you type, and your hips above your knees when you sit. Your feet should be flat on the floor; add a footrest if you need. I have an Aeron chair but I don’t actually recommend it for small to normal sized women (I’m 5’6″)–it seems like it’s made for larger people than me. I’m using a 2″ book for a footrest. And sometimes I use a pillow behind my mid-back.
3. Make sure your monitor is properly placed. It should be directly in front of you, so your neck isn’t always twisting to one side. The top half of your screen should be at eye level, so you don’t have to crane your neck up or down to see it. And don’t put the brightness all the way up as it’s more tiring for the eyes.
4. Get an adjustable desk, so you can alternate between sitting and standing over the course of the day. We just ordered Elevate II sit-stand desks from Uptime Business Products.
5. Do a few basic exercises during your hourly breaks. Mostly you should be stretching your arms and hands, neck, shoulders, back, and legs. Here are examples of some stretches that can be done at your desk (talk to your doctor first!). There’s even a handy printable sheet.