The Comfortable, Ergonomic Office: What you should and shouldn’t do

An office with a desk, computer, and chair

Sitting behind a desk is part of a lot of people’s work. Many of us spend hours in an office, sitting and pecking away at a keyboard. We’ve spoken about why green cleaning is important so workers aren’t sitting in chemicals or inhaling them, as well as why open office plans aren’t great for an employee’s health or emotional state, but let’s talk about healthy sitting in an office.

Standing is killing you — but so is sitting

Too much of any good thing is bad for you. Did you know that you can die from drinking too much water? Standing for too long, as well as sitting for too long, can have detrimental effects on your health. Sitting for too long can reduce blood flow, reduce muscle effectiveness (due to muscles not being used as much), and reduce the efficiency of a metabolism burning calories. You may also find yourself gaining weight if you sit too much, because enzymes that help burn fat decrease when you are sedentary. A stand up office desk can only do so much — standing can also harm your body, legs, and feet.

How to ensure the least amount of harm comes to you when sitting

Preventing your body from accepting the toll of harm because you’re working an office job is easier than you think. You can make some quick changes that can help save your back, neck, eyesight, and more.

Preventing back pain

Try not to sit funny in your chair. If your chair is causing you discomfort, ask for a new one. Ensure that your feet are flat on the ground, and if they aren’t, see if you can get a box or something else that will allow you to put your feet flat. If you find yourself hunching to look at your monitor, put your monitor on a riser so you can view without straining.

Preventing wrist pain

Your hands should be as flat as possible. Avoid angles with your hands. If your wrists are angled, your chair may be too high or too low. Adjust your chair, and grab a cushion for the edge of your desk so your wrists can rest comfortably without the edge of the desk eating into your arms.

Preventing neck pain

If you use the phone a lot, either put your call on speaker or ask for a headset so you can talk without holding a cell phone or phone receiver to your ear. This will keep you from developing a kink trying to hold it and type or take notes at the same time.

Correct Seating Posture Infographic

Preventing leg pain

If you’re graced with vertical height, you may struggle to fold your legs under most desks. Try dropping your chair, but if you can’t lower your chair enough, you may want to request a taller desk, or a standing desk where you can sit and stand as you need to.

Try not to store things under your desk so you don’t kick them or feel like you might. Move cables out of the way so you don’t get tangled in them.

Save your eyes

Ensure that your monitor is at least arm’s length away. If you’re having trouble seeing things on your screen, don’t squint and lean in. Instead, use built in accessibility programs to make the text on your screen larger. You can enlarge most screens, and can even use control + or command + on a Mac in Google Chrome to magnify web pages. Go ahead, try it!

Take breaks

The recommended formula for taking breaks to save your health is at least a 5 minute break every hour. If you can even take a short break to get up and go to the printer, this will be more helpful to you than just sitting all day. If you can complete some work while standing, and some while sitting, dividing the work in half will help keep sitting from taking its toll on your body. Short, frequent breaks are more effective than long breaks between longer durations of time.

What do you do to save your health at your sedentary office job? Let us know in the comments below!

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