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If your work involves sitting at a desk all day, staring at a screen, then your health could be at risk.  This probably isn’t much of a surprise, as the internet is awash with health scare stories. But, to help you feel your best here are four favourite tips from The Accountancy Partnership team.

Stand up and move

A study estimated that, for every hour we sit unmoving after the age of 25, our life expectancy is reduced by 21.8 minutes. Multiply that by hours of desk job, and it turns into a lot!

A 2012 study published in the Lancet blamed inactivity for 9% of premature deaths. More recent studies show a 147% increase in the incidence of cardiovascular events, and a 112% increase in the risk of diabetes.

These figures are based on those spending longest sitting, compared to those who sat least, even if, between long sitting periods, people were taking regular exercise.

This research has inspired the development of ‘standing desks’; regular desks that move upwards on hydraulics so users can stand at them when required.

They’re worth considering, but whether you use them or not, you should be standing up and moving around for a few minutes at least once every 45 minutes. Some fitness trackers now warn you if you’ve been sitting down for 30 minutes or more.

Maintain a healthy workplace

Your working area should be well-ventilated and kept at a comfortable temperature. Your screen should be at eye level. If you have a laptop, use a stand and either a separate keyboard or monitor.

Ideally your elbows should be at a 90 degree angle when using the keyboard, and your knees should be at a 90 degree angle too, so ensure your chair and desk are at the right height. This will help to prevent joint problems and repetitive strain injury. Be aware of your back position too. Don’t hunch or lean over, and stretch regularly.

Look after your eyes

Your eyes are not designed to focus on the same thing at the same distance for prolonged periods, or to stare for a long time at glaring screens. Make them do it, and you risk CVS (Computer Vision Syndrome); irritated dry, red eyes, as well as blurred vision, double vision and headaches.

To help your eyes stay healthy, every 20 minutes, spend 20 seconds focusing on something in the distance (preferably around 20ft away; it’s known as the 20/20/20 rule). Adjust the lighting in your room to reduce glare and adjust your screen brightness. Consider a glare filter for your screen and ensure your monitor is around 20-28 inches away.

Take care of your mental health

Keep your day structured, but with enough flexibility that it doesn’t feel like failure if you miss something non-essential out. Regular breaks, away from your desk, are just as important for your mental wellbeing as they are for your physical health.

Screen breaks, or noise breaks, or artificial lighting breaks… sometimes you need to try and get into a different space from what your office occupies, even if it’s reading a book in another room.

If you’re interested in quick exercises you can do while sitting, take a look at this NHS video about chair Pilates.

About The Author

Elizabeth Hughes

A content writer specialising in business, finance, software, and beyond. I'm a wordsmith with a penchant for puns and making complex subjects accessible. Learn more about Elizabeth.

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