Staying healthy when you work a desk job can be a challenge. Contrary to popular belief, sitting at a desk all day isn’t easy on your body.
You’re probably familiar with all of the potential aches and pains if you’ve spent any significant amount of time working at a desk: strained vision, lower and upper back pain, and general fatigue.
A lot of the day to day strain on your body can be alleviated by remembering to take care of yourself throughout the day.
Get Up at Least Once Every Hour
We all know that feeling of lethargy around the middle of the day. You’ve been sitting for a few hours, your lower back is starting to hurt, and your eyes are getting heavy, but the day isn’t nearly over yet. Getting up from your desk regularly can offer some immediate relief.
Staying healthy requires movement. Try to get up at regular intervals and either walk around your office or do some light stretches. Staying seated in the same position for long periods of time can cause anything from serious blood clots to annoying muscle cramps.
By keeping your body moving, you’ll keep your blood pumping and help to loosen up those muscles. Doing this regularly will help you stay limber and also keep your brain from zoning out and suffering those midday energy problems.
If you find that you’re busy or having trouble remembering, try setting alarms on your phone or computer. Even just taking five minutes to move around will do you a world of good towards staying healthy.
Take Care of Your Eyes
Your eyes get tired just like the rest of your body. Sometimes they may feel dry, a little sore, or you may suffer from headaches from staying focused on the monitor for hours on end.
Try to look away from your monitor about once every half an hour. You can look outside the window at a point in the distance, or even just turn away from the computer. Anything that will let your eyes unfocus for about half a minute will help to reduce strain. Staying healthy isn’t all about cardio and muscles. Your eyes can be kept healthy as well.
Keep your monitor about an arm’s length away from where you’re sitting, so that it’s not too close but not so far that you have to squint.
Make sure you’re using an appropriate font size and not struggling to read text that’s too small.
Sit Correctly at Your Desk
By far the best thing you can do for your body is to make sure you’re sitting correctly at your desk. It can feel more comfortable to slump down in your chair or lean forward, easing some of the pressure off of your back, but you’re actually doing more harm than good and promoting bad posture.
Make sure you’re sitting straight in your chair with your shoulders back. Your chair should be low enough that your feet can remain flat on the ground. Sit with as much of your back in contact with the chair as possible. When you’re regularly exercising and staying healthy, a good posture comes more naturally because your back muscles are stronger.
Sitting up in your chair like this will give you more support throughout the day. Remember not to cross your legs, as that can create unneeded stress on your knees and ankles.
Your arms should be parallel across the desk and your wrists and shoulders should be relaxed. Try to find a good angle so you don’t have to turn your neck to look at your monitor, as that can create tension in your shoulders.
Make sure you’re sitting close to your desk with your keyboard nearby. If you’re having to reach for the keyboard or mouse, you’ll end up creating unneeded stress in your neck and shoulders.
Drink Plenty of Water and Snack Healthy
Along with moving around, the other most important thing needed for staying healthy is good water intake. It’s easy to forget and not drink enough water, or to replace it with sugary sodas when you’re feeling tired. Your body needs water like a car needs oil, though, and it’s a key component in keeping your muscles from getting tired and cramping.
Keep a glass for water within reach when you’re at the computer. Try to drink enough that you have to refill the glass every hour and then when you get up to stretch like we talked about earlier, you can refill your cup.
Snacking throughout the day will also help keep your energy up and your mind focused, but snacking on things like potato chips and candy will only give you a temporary boost. Try healthy finger foods like baby carrots, grapes, or lightly salted nuts.
Use Monitor Dimmer Programs at Night
Maintaining a healthy sleep schedule can be hard when you have a busy schedule and a lot of work to do. At night you might feel like it’s hard for you to get to sleep, especially if you’ve been on the computer all day.
Looking into the bright surface of a computer monitor tells our brains that it’s light outside, still, and doesn’t allow you to begin the relaxation process that will help you get to sleep later.
Programs like f.lux (http://justgetflux.com/) operate on a timer and automatically start to tint your monitor in warm, comforting tones as it gets later at night. This may help you transition better into a time when you’re ready to start relaxing and get ready for bed.
Maintaining a healthy sleep schedule will help keep you feeling rested throughout the day, and being well-rested is vital to staying healthy.