When you spend most of your working days hunched over a desk, it can be hard to stay active and watch your health. Perhaps it’s just made even worse by the pandemic, where everyone has to work from a desk at home — or worse, slouched on the sofa or on your bed in an uncomfortable position. The consequences of working at a desk for hours on end can be absolutely unforgiving.
From your posture, your hands, your eyes, even your mental health. Preventing these consequences should be one of your highest priorities when you’re working a desk job, especially as you get older.
Here are some small ways you can stay fit and healthy even when you’ve been glued to your desk all day:
Sit up straight
Seriously. Posture is one of the first things to go when you’ve been sitting there working all day. While it might be more comfortable to slouch in your chair, bad posture can affect your spine, cause pain in your back and neck, affect your breathing, and increase fatigue among other things. Whenever you catch yourself slouching or not maintaining the right posture, make a habit to sit up straighter, even for just a few seconds.
Getting an ergonomic office chair can also help with that. If you get yourself used to sitting up straight, it’ll soon become a habit and you’ll start doing it without thinking.
Doing stretches while sitting can do wonders for your back and your limbs. Even if it’s only for a moment, lean back and stretch your arms or legs every once in a while. Staying in the same stationary position for hours is often the most detrimental thing you can do while working at a desk. It helps to stretch your body and get yourself moving to avoid falling into the all too tempting habit of remaining in the same bad position in your chair.
Get up and walk around in your breaks
Being stationary and idle is your worst enemy. When you can, get up from your desk and take a few walks. If you can’t leave the house, even just walking circles around your room can help. Going from the same monotonous scenery of your room or office to a nice walk through a park or around your block can not only improve your mental health and cognitive functions but also gets you out there and moving your body, improving circulation and posture. It’s important that you spend just as much time standing or walking as you do sitting down.
Do hand stretches and exercises
When you’re working at a desk, you’re usually in front of a computer, typing or drawing, or even playing games on your PC. The continued motion of typing or clicking away at your mouse can hurt your hands and wrists. You incur the risk of developing carpal tunnel, strains, or other injuries from repetitive motion or RSIs, which might lead to pain and even loss of function. Doing regular hand stretches and exercises can help to prevent injuries.
Wearing hand braces can also help lessen pain if you already experience it. The best thing about these exercises is that they’re relatively easy to do, don’t take up much time, and are extremely beneficial in the long run.
Rest your eyes
Staring at a bright computer screen all day can also do a number on your eyes, especially if you already have existing eye conditions. When you can, try to give your eyes a break from the screen and close them. You’ve heard about how taking power naps and breaks in between work can help. Resting your eyes can also keep your eyes from getting too strained or from general fatigue. Your eyes are just as important as the rest of your body, if not more, and taking care of them is essential in being able to continue your daily activities.
Drink and eat healthy
If you like having snacks or drinks while you work, you might want to consider healthier options than just potato chips and soda. Coffee might have its fair share of health benefits, but having too much might not be good for you. Try drinking herbal tea while you work, or munch on fruit slices and energy bars. Finding healthier alternatives to your usual break-time snacks is just another way to make sure you’re getting the right nutrients and energy to not only keep working effectively but to maintain your health and fitness.
Get professional treatment for your pain
If you experience chronic pain in your back, shoulders, neck, wrists, or hands that no amount of stretching, exercising or resting can seem to cure, seek professional help immediately. Health professionals will be able to diagnose the proper problems for you and can even offer you medication and advice for any specific kinds of pain you might experience.
For example, professional back pain treatment is one of the most common options for people who work at a desk. Treatment can include anything from massages to seeing a chiropractor and will usually yield helpful results, from easing the pain to finding solutions to prevent the pain from coming back. When in doubt, always ask your doctor.
Staying fit and healthy even when you’re at a desk all day is all about finding the right exercises and the right time to do them. Remember that you only get to live once, so take care of the body that you have right now and don’t compromise on your health and fitness, because in the end, it’s all you’ve got.