You may have heard the new adage “sitting is the new smoking”. While this isn’t at all an accurate comparison, it is true that sitting all day can cause numerous health concerns. Sitting all day, particularly in front of a computer, can lead to bad posture, eye strain, and neck and back pain. If you’re finding yourself aching after a long day of sitting, check out these tips to adjust your posture and keep your back happy and healthy.
Adjust Your Monitor. If you’re spending 90% of your day staring at your computer, then it’s best to make sure it’s at the right level for your eyes. A monitor that is tilted too far up or down can cause neck stiffness and back pain. Your monitor should be perpendicular to your eyes so that you are always looking straight ahead and not putting too much pressure on your neck.
Sit Up. We all know, objectively, that we should sit up straight and maintain good posture for the health of our backs and overall wellbeing. However, when you’re knee-deep in work on a Monday morning, your posture might fall by the wayside as you focus entirely on work. Consider setting a timer on your phone or computer that messages you every 15 or 30 minutes as a reminder to sit up straight. Make sure the chair you’re sitting in is ergonomic and encourages good posture.
Stand Up. Human beings didn’t evolve to sit for hours at a time. It’s better for your physical and mental health to stand as much as possible during the day. Try to incorporate standing breaks into your day, while looking over reports or talking on the phone. This helps increase blood flow and correct your posture so that when you sit down again, you won’t be as hunched over. Try to incorporate some short stretches into your breaks as well to keep your muscles relaxed and limber. You might even consider trading in your office chair for a standing desk.
Use a Headset. If you’re on the phone a good majority of your day, it may be wise to use a headset. Often you might find yourself needing to write or type while on the phone, and cradling your phone between your cheek and shoulder is a sure recipe for neck pain. Keep your hands free by using a headset so that you can still multitask without straining your muscles.
Take a Hike. Take a break from your desk to take a short walk. Run an errand, walk to your lunch destination, or even just go grab a cup of coffee. Taking a walk will get your blood pumping and increase your productivity as well as giving your stiff muscles a break from sitting in the same place for so long. You will also find that in addition to helping your posture, taking a walk will help you feel more awake when you sit back down again.
Exercise. A regular exercise routine will go far in helping you correct your posture and reduce neck and back pain. The foundation of a healthy back is strong muscles, so be sure that you’re incorporating moderate weight training into your exercise plans. We’re not talking dead-lifting 250 lbs. or anything (although if you can do that safely, more power to you). However, exercise and moderate weight training will help you give your body the foundation for better overall health and posture. Low impact exercises such as yoga and pilates are also great for stretching and toning your muscles.
Follow these tips to adjust your habits (and your posture) for a better, more productive work week.