Many of us sit all day in front of a computer before going home and sitting in front of another PC or laptop.
Despite the rise of smartphones and tablets, PCs remain a central part of our everyday lives and it’s really not doing our bodies any good at all.
A campaign called On Your Feet Britain has been trying to raise awareness of our sedentary habits, claiming that spending long periods of time is linked to a number of health problems such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancers and poor mental health – even for those who cycle into work or hit the gym at the end of the day.
Several studies show that computer usage shows no sign of calming down anytime soon either. Research by eMarketer last year showed that on average we now spend two hours and 13 minutes at a PC a day, up from one hour and 55 minutes in 2011.
As well as causing eye strain, sitting at a computer for such a long time can seriously affects your posture too. Here’s some advice on how you can find the best seating position in front of your machine:
Tip 1: Adjust your chair
A comfortable chair is the first step to making sure you avoid injury at your desk, and preferably an office chair that you can adjust.
Make sure the height is good enough for you to place your feet flat on the ground, while your knees should be parallel too. At your chosen height your forearms should be horizontal and your wrists straight.
You should also adjust the back of your seat so that your lower back is fully supported – add a cushion or pillow if necessary.
Tip 2: Get your body into the right position
Try and keep yourself sitting up tall in your seat, with your legs down and feet flat on the ground.
If you’re copying something from a document, don’t place it flat next to you – prop it up on something so that’s in line with your eyes and doesn’t cause you to constantly look up and down.
Tip 3: Check your screen height
The top of the screen should be at eye level, so that you’re not hunched or leaning forward. Likewise, the distance between yourself and the screen should be about arm’s length.
Tip 4: Get supports for your mouse and keyboard
Using a mouse and keyboard can cause some irritation to your wrists as they rub on surfaces, but you can buy a wrist support pad to make it more comfortable.
Gel-based wrist supports are particularly good, such as Fellowes’s Gel Mouse Pad and Wrist Support (Amazon - £8.66) and their accompanying Gel Keyboard Wrist Support (Amazon - £9.98).
Tip 5: Take regular breaks and do stretches
As with any repetitive activity, it’s important that you take regular breaks. Don’t wait until you start experiencing aches before taking some time out.
The best thing you can do is go or a little walk of about 5-10 minutes every hour to break up your time at the PC.
Be sure to stretch your neck left and right, as well as your back and arms, and twirl your wrists a few times to loosen up your muscles.
Tip 6: Consider getting a standing desk
A standing desk could be another good solution to the aches caused from sitting too long in the office.
If you’re not familiar with standing desks, they can be pulled up so that you can continue using your PC while standing. As soon as you’ve stretched your legs enough, you can then lower it back down and return to your seat.
The NHS has even more information on how you should sit correctly in general, which you can read here.
Do you have any other tips for improving your posture? Let us know in the Comments section below.