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6 ways to improve your health at the office

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BY Tess O'Callaghan

{Project Manager, Designer, Developer}

30 December 2015

Sitting is killing you, they say. Maybe… but let’s not be so dramatic.

Hi, I’m Tess. I design, develop and project manage here at Digital Noir.

I’ve been sitting at computers for most of my day since the start of high school. It didn’t take long before I started getting neck and wrist issues. I tended to ignore it and just focus on my work or study. Back when I studied animation, I would realise I had been sitting for 8 hours straight and couldn’t straighten my back again when I tried to get up!

Ok… I know not all of you are like me. Some of you can sit in front of a computer without moving for days and days. Some of you will remain fine for your whole life. Sometimes you’ll have damage starting in your back that you can’t even feel yet. We’re all different.

As for me, I made some changes after dealing with my back tension and pain for several years. Yes, there are heaps of things we get told about office ergonomics – knees at 90 degrees, elbows at 90 degrees, straight back, eyes at the top third of the screen. This stuff is all a given, but here are some other things I’ve done:

1. Vertical mouse
I’m not even joking – as soon as I changed to this mouse, I felt more comfortable. These put your wrist in the right position and for me it reduced my pain significantly. A few years later and I don’t feel wrist pain anymore. I also got a pretty great gel pad for my wrist. It supports your wrist, stays cool and is practically a stress ball as well.

2. Sit to stand desk
I’ve had my Varidesk about 6 months now. It sits on top of my normal desk, which has been very convenient. I thought I’d have to take my time working up to standing more, but I think my back was so bad that sitting was just too painful and I started to stand pretty much all day. After a few months, I started sitting again for an hour or 2 each day.

3. Regular Gym visits
Gym isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. I’ve been doing it for a couple of years and found it quite unapproachable initially. I’m the kind of person that prefers exercise in the fresh air – tennis or a walk. After some Personal Training to get a feel for everything, I soon worked out what I liked and disliked. Lots of cardio, a good stretch and some light weights are plenty for me. People think it’s a huge commitment, but if you find a gym close to you and don’t set your goals to high, you’ll probably find you exceed your expectations… and back to my original point, you have more energy for your computer time at work. I find it easier to stay awake and energised after a morning at the gym.

4. Yoga
Yoga isn’t for everyone, but for me it is my mid-week holiday. I’m one of the youngest there and everyone else is more flexible than me. Some are over 60 and are an excellent example of how great yoga is for you. I just stretch as far as I can and it releases any built up muscle tension. You don’t have to do these things amazingly, you just have to do them. Pilates also gives similar physical benefits.

5. At least 15 mins walking at lunch
I just walk around the block. A bit of sun, air and movement breaks up all the sitting

6. Regular stretching/movement at my desk throughout the workday
This is one that I’m still working on. I try, but when you’re focussed on work, sometimes you just forget.

All these changes have significantly improved my health and energy and reduced back, neck and wrist pain. I’d recommend all of them for office workers, especially if you have long stints at the computer. They’re not for everyone, so maybe just start with some workouts you can do at your desk. I know we all tend to be a bit too embarrassed to get up and move in a quiet office, so this little infographic that Scott found has ranked the workouts based on how humiliating they are.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/health/workout-at-work/

We are strong advocators for fitting movement into your day, so we have demonstrated them for you. There’s nothing humiliating about keeping healthy!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tess O'Callaghan

Tess is passionate about creating a unique, straightforward user experience tailored to each business and subject matter. Add to that a very organised and thoughtful approach to projects, plus great communication skills, and you’ve got a brilliant project manager for all of our web projects.

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