Working on a computer most of the day has become the norm in many companies. Though to one who does physical labor, computer work may seem easy at best, in reality the repetition of typing can be a body breaking experience when applied all day long several days in a row. It has made many employees turn to ibuprofen on a daily basis, or seek out a chiropractor to help correct the damage done.
All this can be easily avoided. First adjust your computer so the monitor is at eye level, not requiring you to tilt your head upward or downward. If your computer’s height is not adjustable, stack some books or a pile of recyclable paper under it until it is the correct height. If you need to bring something from home each day to prop it on because of rotating office cubes, fill a box with a stack of papers or old books and decorate the outside with a wrapping of family pictures or landscapes and images that make you feel good when looking at them.
Next, adjust your chair. It should be high enough to keep your elbows higher than the keyboard, so you aren’t reaching upward or bending your wrists unnaturally. Get a carpal tunnel keyboard pad and use it whenever you are typing at your computer.
Taking short meaningful breaks is the best way to avoid physical stress, but this requires a little planned discipline to create healthy habits while in the work place. If you are permitted to leave your desk for a break every two hours, then take a walk to the restroom or cafeteria to stretch your legs and get the circulation flowing in your lower extremities. In cases, where you are not permitted to leave your chair for any period of time, such as in call centers where part time workers are forced to remain at their computer for six hours straight, you can do the following exercises to relieve the physical tension in your muscles and joints:
- Keep a box, ottoman, or upside down trashcan under your desk to put your feet on. If your legs are too long to reach your keyboard when you have your legs extended, then bend them at the knee and let your outer ankles lie gently on a folded towel set on top of your box with the soles of your shoes together. This will keep the circulation in your feet moving.
- Every two hours extend your legs fully under your desk. Point your toes and hold that position for three seconds, and then pull your toes in the opposite direction toward your knees and hold them for three seconds. Repeat this ten to twenty times.
- Sitting with your knees bent, lift your left leg as high as you can to your chest three times, holding it up for at least one second at the highest point. Repeat this with the right leg. Exercise both legs at least ten times.
- Extend your left leg fully under your desk again. With your toes pointed upward, lift your legs up as high as you can. Hold that position for two seconds, and then lower it until it is a foot from the floor. Repeat ten to twenty times. Do the same with the right leg.
- Lift your left knee toward the outside of your arm up past the height of your elbow with your toes pointed. Hold it two seconds and then lower your leg and extend it fully under your desk, pulling your toes back toward your knees, holding it two seconds. Repeat this on the right leg. Do ten to twenty repetitions.
- Extend your legs fully under your desk again. Slowly rotate your feet clockwise ten to twenty times, and then counter clockwise. Make your hands limp. Shake them gently, but firmly, from side to side twenty times. Then shake them in an up and down motion twenty times.
- Extend your arms out in front of you and rotate your hands from the wrist in one direction ten times, and then ten times in the opposite direction. Put your palms together. Then while pressing your fingers against each other, lift your palms away from each other to flex the hands and stretch the fingers.
- Lift your arms straight over your head with your hands open and stretch upward. Bending at the wrists, make ten circular motions with your hands in one direction, and then ten times in the opposite direction. While stretching upward, interlock your fingers, arch your back, and stretch backwards holding for three seconds.
- Keep your arms extended and then lean to the left as far as you can and to the right as far as you can, holding for three seconds each, working up to ten seconds.
- Make a fist with both hands and then snap them open extending your fingers as far as you can twenty times.
- Repeat making your hands limp. Shake them gently, but firmly, from side to side twenty times. Then shake them in an up and down motion.
- Roll your shoulders slowing backwards ten to twenty times.
- Roll your shoulders forward ten to twenty times.
- Repeat rolling your shoulders slowing backward ten to twenty times.
- Extend your arms to the sides with fingers extended and roll them twenty times forward, and then twenty times backwards.
- Slowly roll your neck clockwise ten times, and then counter clockwise ten times.
- Let your head gently fall forward and then lift it backwards as far as you can while pulling your shoulders back and arching your back. Hold this for three seconds and repeat ten times.
- Sitting with your spine straight, hold in your stomach muscles as tightly as you can and hold it for thirty seconds. Repeat three to ten times.
Do these exercises at your desk every two hours. As you build your muscles and become used to these exercises you can do more repetitions, to relieve any tension and increase blood flow in the areas you feel need it most. These leg exercises will also be working your abs, so you can actually tone your muscles and get into shape while getting your regular work done.
These exercises can be done in whatever order fits best with what you are working on at the moment. Except for the hand exercises, you can continue to type while repeating these physical motions. Hand exercises can be done while speaking on the phone, listening to a client, or reading information. During these typing breaks also be sure to get out of your chair and stand for a few minutes with your back straight.
Creating the habit of exercising regularly during your workday is essential to avoid bad circulation, carpal tunnel, and a stiff neck. Better circulation improves memory and physical activity improves mental concentration. So applying these daily exercises while working at your desk can increase overall productivity, help you burn calories, and get into shape all at the same time. You’ll feel better and stay healthier, which will give you more energy to continue your activities after leaving your job for day.