UK workers spend around 1,700 hours a year working at a computer[i], resulting in a lot of screen-time and extending sitting. This can increase the risk of certain health problems, from poor posture to eye strain and more.
Exercising some good habits can help to avoid these potential problems. Here are our 5 tips to promote good health while working at a computer.
1. Find the right posture
Sitting with poor posture is one of the most common causes of problems for office workers. There’s a tendency to either slump down in the chair or to lean in close to a monitor, both of which put strain on the spine and neck. Sitting at a desk with a proper chair is the best way to promote a good working posture, keeping the spine aligned with the neck, and your head supported directly above.
There’s no need to pull your shoulders back unnaturally, either; it’s about sitting in a relaxed and comfortable position while gently engaging your core to support yourself. Your legs should also be as close to right angles as possible with your feet planted flat on the floor.
2. Use a second screen
If you work on a laptop, having to look down at your screen all the time puts strain on your neck. Ideally you need a monitor at the correct height, or at least your laptop placed higher up while you use an external keyboard.
The optimal viewing position is to have the top of your monitor level with your eyes, so you’re actually looking down slightly. This helps to protect your eyes from drying out and allows you to keep your neck upright.
3. Lower the brightness
Speaking of your monitor, you could help to avoid eye-strain and headaches by dimming your screen slightly. Offices can often be very brightly lit environments, which can make it difficult to set your monitor at a comfortable brightness level, but dimming the screen even slightly can help.
Likewise, working in a dimly lit environment with a very bright screen can be just as uncomfortable over long periods. If you’re working later into the evening, you could also set your monitor to filter out blue light so as not to disrupt your body’s natural sleep cycle.
4. Have healthy snacks to hand
Sitting at a computer working all day isn’t necessarily the most enjoyable task, so it can be easy to reach for more fulfilling things like a cold fizzy drink or a chocolate bar to keep you going. While a snack once in a while is fine, it’s easy to slip into bad habits.
It can be a good idea to have some fruit or nuts on hand, so you’re able to reach for something healthy throughout the day. If you like a cup of coffee or tea to get you through the day, it can also be a good idea to set yourself one or two specific breaktimes to make one, rather than making multiple cups throughout the day.
5. Get up and take a break
One of the best things you can do is to get up and leave your desk for a few minutes every so often. Even just looking away from your monitor regularly is beneficial. Ideally you should change your working position throughout the day with a sit/stand desk, so you’re never sitting or standing too long.
If this isn’t possible in your workplace or home, getting up and moving about is the next best thing. If you have a habit of getting engrossed in your work and forgetting, set yourself an alarm to go off every 30 minutes or an hour to take a walk around the room, look out of the window, get a glass of water, or whatever.