Over the last 100 years, our workday has changed drastically, from spending most of our days moving around and with some activity, to these days spending most of our workday sitting at a computer. In fact, at present 80% of workers spend their workday sitting. Staring at a computer all day and having little physical activity can be detrimental to health in several ways, but there are some steps you can take to boost your health and energy throughout the workday for better overall wellbeing.
1. Take Regular, Short Activity Breaks
Recent research has shown that sitting for more than 6 hours a day (as most of us in office jobs do) is extremely detrimental to health. It’s so detrimental in fact, that sitting more than 6 hours a day over a period of time can reduce your life span by 10 years compared to someone who sets less than 3 hours a day, and that’s regardless of what you do outside of your work hours. Even if you are a gym junkie after work hours if you’re chained to your desk and seat during the day you still experience this negative health effect.
The way to counter this is to take regular breaks from your desk, getting up every 30-40 minutes and stretching the legs, going for a quick walk or quickly marching in the spot to get the blood pumping. Even while at your desk you can perform a few stretching movements and leg activities under the desk every now and then, but it’s best to get on your feet as often as you can.
Depending on how often you can get up and leave your desk to get some exercise, you can also stay at your desk and burn energy through fidgeting! While this might seem strange advice, a recent scientific study has shown that women who fidgeted were much less likely to be overweight than those who didn’t. It was revealed that the leaner women fidgeted and moved around, incidentally accruing a lot more daily activity and burning up to 300 more calories per day than their heavier counterparts.
While fidgeting and what we call incidental activity (those activities of daily life that burn calories like taking the stairs) can’t replace a properly structured exercise routine, it was shown that amongst men and women who didn’t get enough exercise those who fidgeted and moved around more had higher aerobic fitness levels. So now you have a good excuse to tap your foot or drum your fingers at the computer!
3. Give Your Eyes a Break
Staring at a computer screen all day really wreaks havoc on your eyes. Our eyes naturally have a built-in an adjustable lens that contracts when we are looking at something close up, like the computer screen, and races and stretches out when we look at something in the distance. Keeping the lens contracted by staring at a computer screen all day can damage the eyes over time, causing us to become short-sighted. This means that we can easily see things close up but the lenses in our eyes have difficulty a gusting to focus on objects at a distance.
Eye strain can be an early symptom of overuse of your eyes and causes tired, itching and burning eyes. It’s important to seek early eye strain treatment and correct the conditions that are contributing to your eye strain. When working for prolonged periods at the computer, it’s useful to lubricate the eyes with moisturizing eye drops and take regular breaks to focus on something far away in the distance, to keep your lenses supple.
4. Set Up Your Computer Workspace Well
Bad posture is a big contributor to musculoskeletal problems, i.e. backspin and muscle strains, so it’s important to setup your workspace well to promote good posture. Ensure your feet are flat on the floor and your chair is positioned in such a way to allow you to sit up straight. Adjust your computer monitor so that your eyes rest easily on it, without you having to squint or bend your neck.
Ensuring good posture means you avoid unnecessary muscle tension and pain that can come with sitting at a computer all day.
Keep in mind these health tips during your workday for a healthier body and a more focused mind at work.