For 86% of Americans, sitting is merely part of the job. Sitting all day, every day – writing, typing, calling, holding meetings, emailing, chatting with your coworkers…it’s all done from a chair.
But, as you know, sitting for extended periods of time is linked to extreme consequences such as blood clots, diabetes, chronic back pain, and obesity. For these reasons, many modern companies are opting for a chair-free environment, using things like foldable desks, avant-garde office furniture, and fitness ball-inspired chairs.
For those of you not able to modernize your offices or look like a dork trying desperately to balance on a fitness ball, what options do you have?
Pay attention to your:
The position of your monitor matters. The tilt, the height, the distance – they all have an effect on your body. Take a walk around any traditional office, and you’ll see a lot of the same thing: people staring at monitors about six inches away from their faces. Not only does this look ridiculous, but it isn’t healthy either. Your monitor should be about two feet away from your face, meaning there should be a considerable amount of distance between your eyes and your screen.
Your monitor should also be at eye level. If your desk doesn’t allow for this, then you can purchase a monitor stand like this one that will hold your monitor at a higher level. If you want to take things a bit further, then tilt your monitor backward at a 10- to a 15-degree angle. Tilting your monitor should provide a better line of sight due to the (ergonomically-sound) positioning of your chair and body.
Even if your monitor is positioned perfectly, it won’t make a difference if your body isn’t up for the challenge.
Your elbows and knees should be at a 90-degree angle with both feet flat on the ground. There should be no slumping; your back should be straight and firmly resting on the back of your chair (which is why your monitor should be tilted slightly).
If your chair supports your lower back, then you won’t be sitting at a 90-degree angle but instead, at around a 100-degree angle…which is good.
While you may not be allowed to take a lap around the building every hour, there are other options that will give your eyes and your body the break they need.
It’s important to rest your eyes a few times every hour. Pick an object (that isn’t your monitor) like a picture or a plant or a window and focus on it for about 20 seconds. FastCompany calls it the 20-20-20 rule, “Every 20 minutes, take 20 seconds to look at something 20 feet away.”
If you aren’t able to take a 10-minute lap every hour or so, then stretch right from your desk. You can either get up or stay seated; it makes no difference. Whether you touch your toes, reach for your back, or do a few stationary lunges, the point is to do something that doesn’t involve typing. You can pick up a few good tips on desk stretching right here.