Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Sit Up Straight!

With me hosting my 2nd blog based class tomorrow about the American Sedentary Lifestyle, I figured that it would be the perfect opportunity to address one of the aspects of our increasingly sedentary lifestyle, sitting at work.

As most people know, there are far more jobs that require people to sit at work than there used to be.  With the advent of technological advances in computers and robotics, our jobs require us to sit a lot more than before.  We are able to communicate and calculate using our work computers instead to getting up and physically going somewhere.  There have also been robots taking over jobs that have long been held by people, and then of course we need people to use computers to control the robots, which means more sitting.

And all this sitting is not so great on our bodies because it decreases our mobility and can lead to chronic problems.  The good news is even if you do need to sit all day, there is a proper way to do so.

First thing first, make sure you have a good chair.  One that changes heights, back angles, has adjustable arm rests, and a back that goes up to at least your shoulders is a good start.  Even better would be a chair that has an adjustable lumbar support.  If your chair doesn't have a lumbar support, you can easily add one by taking a towel, rolling it up, and placing it right in the small of your back.

You also need to make sure eveything's is ergonomically set up.  Having your screen at eye level prevents you from looking down and forward the whole day.  Make sure that your keyboard is set up so that you are not straining to use it.  Make it sit at a comforatble angle for you shoulders, elbows, and wrists.  Just make sure that it's not sitting too low that you have to hunch over to type comfortably.

Finally, and the previous two go hand in hand with this, make sure that you have proper posture.  By having everything in the correct place, you should be sitting tall with your shoulders back and your head directly over your shoulders.  Most people will be slumped forward with no lumbar curve, their shoulders rounded forward, and their head way in front of their shoulders.  This position only leads to trouble.  Take a look at the picture for a good reference:

Of course, you should always get up and move around whenever possible.  Stretch, go for a walk on your break, take the stairs, etc.  It's pretty easy to add that tiny bit of exercise and you'll be doing your body a world of good by adding that little bit.

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