We’ve known for years that spending most of your day seated can harm your overall health, but when you’re stuck in front of a computer all day, what other options do you have?
Ergonomics is about creating an environment that fits YOU rather than trying to fit yourself into an already set environment.
Because everyone’s body is built a little differently (taking into account height, weight, overall size, and physical abilities), a standard office chair and desk isn’t going to suit everybody. This is especially true if you consider that we’re expected as a society to be seated during office hours, which we’re evolutionarily not accustomed to.
After hours of sitting in a sedentary position day after day, our musculoskeletal system, as well as our general health, will begin to decline. Some of the most common complaints I hear involve back pain, shoulder pain, neck pain, and hand/wrist pain.
While I can’t help you find a job that allows or encourages you to walk around all day, there are a few things you can do to improve the comfort of your workspace:
- Adjust the back of your chair to support your back and lumbar region (that’s where your back naturally curves). If your chair doesn’t have that ability, try sitting back against a firm pillow. - Have your screen set about an arm’s length away, and make sure that the top of your screen is in line with your eyebrows. - Centrally align your keyboard and monitor, so you’re not twisting to use it. - Adjust the height of your chair so that your forearms are horizontal to the desktop and in line with your keyboard. - Lastly, be sure that your feet can reach (and sit flat on) the floor. If they can’t, find something to use as a footrest.
Once your desk is set up for success, make it a point to get a little more movement into your day:
- Ask a coworker to join you for a walking meeting instead of sitting at a conference table. - Mix non-desk-based tasks into your day so that you have a reason to get up and move every hour or so. - If you regularly make phone calls, consider getting a Bluetooth or wireless headset to move around while taking calls.