Sitting is killing you. Sitting in itself isn’t bad, but if you work at a computer, sitting for hours every day ends up being hard on your body. Here are some simple tips you can do to help.
While sitting all the time is generally considered bad for your health, one of the first things to do is your posture. Sitting all the time reduces the strength of the core, which in turn makes you slouch. It’s terrible for your back, shoulders, and neck, causes pain, and generally makes you more unhealthy. And when you lose that core strength, the slouch gets even worse. Fortunately, this is not permanent and there are things you can start doing today to make things better.
Set your monitor to the correct height (and at the correct distance)
It may be shocking, but the monitor level is too low terrible for your posture — yes, we’re talking to you regular laptop users. The top of your monitor should be level with your eyes (when you’re sitting upright), so you’re always facing forward and never lowered. With the top of the monitor at eye level, you can keep your head straight and use your eyes to see the rest of the screen.
But if you’re using a laptop, you’re probably always looking down. In the short term, this is not necessarily harmful. But if you’re constantly working on your laptop, it can be terrible for your posture, especially your neck. This can cause persistent neck and back pain, headaches, and more.
Therefore, if you are a regular laptop user, we highly recommend getting an external monitor when using your laptop at your desk.
When it comes to monitors, the distance between you and your display is also important. Generally, if you’re sitting in your normal typing position, you should be able to reach out and just touch the monitor without stretching too much. Somewhere around 20-24 inches is pretty good. Farther away, and not only are you straining your eyes, you are likely to tilt your head forward to see clearly.
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Cross your legs
Proper posture requires your feet to be planted firmly on the floor—both. This means that sitting cross-legged, while comfortable for some people, ends up being detrimental to your posture.
So cross those legs, plant those legs firmly on the floor (or take a stool under the table if need be) and start changing your overall posture. It can take some getting used to, and there’s nothing to suggest that you can’t cross your legs from time to time — just remember to keep them uncrossed more often.
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Roll your shoulders back
When you slouch, your head ends up moving forward, as if in front of your body. The thing is, the heads are heavy. Even a modest forward lean puts a lot of stress on the neck muscles. Not a big deal in the short term, but when it’s a one-day pose it can cause problems.
This is not a natural position of the body — it is something that is «learned» over time. In fact, your head should be aligned with your body.
There is a simple trick to fix this. Shrug your shoulders straight up to your ears, roll them back, and then relax. To put this into perspective, your ears should be aligned with your shoulders. And do it carefully. It should not feel like you are straining or causing any real discomfort. It’s just a way to get the right alignment.
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Do yoga or Pilates
The key to good posture is a strong core. I’m not talking six-pack abs here, just overall good core strength. You don’t have to sit or lift your legs to get a strong and secure core — you can get a good and strong core by doing yoga or Pilates.
Both focus on flexibility and body control, which not only strengthen the core naturally, but also work on many other key areas of the body. A flexible body is a strong body, and yoga and Pilates are great ways to achieve this.
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Do tabletop exercises
It may seem like a dumb suggestion, but there are a few exercises you can do at your desk to improve your posture (and overall health for quite some time).
WebMD has a great article with some great suggestions on what you can do at your table to improve your health. Otherwise, there is no shortage of good tabletop exercises. Doing a few simple exercises several times a day will not only improve your posture (and possibly your health), but it will also help you energize, focus, and complete tasks so you’re more productive. Feels good, man.
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If at all possible, you can simply eliminate the sedentary aspect of your computer entirely by switching to a permanent desk. They have become more and more popular in the last few years, and there are now many affordable and practical options available.
Not only is standing better than sitting, but it makes it much easier to keep moving. You can easily stretch your legs or step away from the computer for a second to re-focus. As an added bonus, standing tables have also been shown to improve productivity.
Just note that if you want to switch to a permanent desk, you’ll also need a good anti-static mat — and keep in mind that you can’t just switch from sitting to all at once. It will take your body some time to get used to standing for more than eight hours a day, so don’t throw out that chair just yet.
And some people find that switching between sitting and standing works better than doing either of them exclusively. Whatever works for you.
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