Sitting at a desk all day has become the new smoking. Being trapped in a chair, typing madly and staring at a computer all day can lead to body and health problems. But perhaps your job requires just that. How much exercise should you squeeze into your day to undo the damage?
Hunching, neck tension, and eye strain are a few of the downsides of that desk job.
The good news is that by including some daily exercise, and making good ergonomic choices, you can avoid any problems.
Lower Back Strain
The most common desk-job complaint is lower back pain. Slumping or slouching can cause you back to be out of alignment. What to do? Alleviate immediate pain by rocking your pelvis back and forth while sitting on your chair. This will loosen your back muscles. For the long-term, make sure your back reaches the back of your chair. If not, add a cushion. Also, your feet should be resting flat on the floor, so the weight of your legs are supported and not adding strain to your back. If not, add a footstool. Including a few daily ab crunches can strengthen your core, also taking less strain off your back.
Whenever you are using a mouse of pounding on a keyboard, your wrist tendons get a workout. The constant repetitive motion can cause tension and fatigue. Poor posture can decrease blood flow, causing tingling and numbness. Quickly relieve tension by doing a prayer stretch, palms together and elbows out, lowering your hands for a good 5-second stretch. The long-term solution is to hold your hands naturally and out horizontally over the keyboard. Also, use a wrist rest and rest them often.
Neck and Shoulder Pain
To release a tight neck, keep your spine straight push your chin forward, and then reverse the movement pulling your head back. Repeat four times. For both your neck and shoulders, tilt your right ear down to toward your shoulder, leaving your left arm down by your side. Repeat on the opposite side. Hold for 60 seconds and repeat up to four times on each side for immediate relief from tightness.
For the long-term, adjust your workstation so that your monitor is directly in front of you, not angled to one side. Use a chair with adjustable arm rests, so that your arms can rest at a 90 degree angle. This takes tension from the shoulders.
Having a monitor placed incorrectly–too far away or too near, blinking less often, and starring at one for hours on end can lead to sore dry eyes.
To quickly relieve tension, look away from the screen every 20 or 30 minutes, and hold the gaze for at least 20 seconds. Even better, get up and take a walk away from your desk and give your eyes a chance to focus on other objects.
If you wear glasses, makes sure you have the right prescription glasses for the location of your computer screen. It is recommended that your computer monitor is 20 to 40 inches away from you. The top of the monitor should be roughly at eye level. You can also place a filter over your monitor to reduce glare.
Add exercise to your day
All that excessive sitting can leave your hips and legs tight and your glutes inactive.
Try taking time for a daily walk or run. Take time to do a few leg stretches before heading out such as leg swings from side to side and forward and back. Do 20 swings each way. Add a squat, and a hold it for up to 60 seconds. These are just a couple of stretches to help you limber up a bit. There are many more you can do if you need to and many resources online where you can find them. Any activity you can add to your day where you are not sitting would be a benefit!