Whether you’re toiling away at a formal place of employment or turning a quiet corner of a room at home into office space, most people spend at least part of their time sitting down at a desk. Lest we forget how traumatic it can be on our bodies to sit in one spot for eight or more hours per day, it might be time to take another look at how to alleviate fatigue and pain associated with a sedentary lifestyle.
“I actually keep a heating pad on the back of my chair in my office,” admits Baye Mayberry, the marketing coordinator for Advanced Orthopedics of Oklahoma, based in Tulsa. “This keeps my back from aching.”
While some people do not have a choice on the type of desk they use, Mayberry suggests that if you have the freedom, get a desk that raises to standing level.
“That way, you are able to stretch and change your position periodically rather than just sitting all day,” she says. “If you can get up, stretch or walk around, I would highly recommend it. It keeps your blood flowing and makes it more comfortable when you’re sitting.”
Most medical professionals have taken the stance that having your computer screen at the right height is of utmost importance when working for extended periods of time.
“I keep my computer at eye level when I am in my chair so that my neck is not straining to constantly look up or down,” says Mayberry.
Chad Hanson, DO, of the Orthopaedic Center agrees.
“Sitting at a desk can be an active workout in and of itself,” he notes.
Hanson advises placing a desk monitor at shoulder height for a steady gaze and a neutral neck alignment. If tiredness or lack of focus is the issue, a foot peddler machine or hand gripping exercises can be used to increase blood flow to the extremities and begin activation of the sympathetic nervous system.
“I recommend every 30 minutes getting up from the chair and stretching your legs,” he adds. “A brisk one- to five-minute walk can help get you refreshed and focused on the day.”
Other Tips to Try
• Keep your workspace organized so you won’t have to search for constantly-used items
• Invest in an office chair that is comfy for you and only you
• Stash high-energy snacks where you can easily reach
• Put things in your space that give you pleasure – consider making a vision board with fun photos and your favorite inspirational quotes
• Do not eat a meal at your desk. Take a break from staring at your computer and leave the area, even if for only a short time.
Hanson also suggests individuals incorporate 30 to 45 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise into their routines five days a week.
“This is especially important for a desk worker who has a more sedentary work life,” he says.