The healthiest way to sit while working
To create an environment that supports our health while sitting at screens, we need to consider the design and layout of our workspace, including the desk, chair, computer monitor, keyboard, mouse and the quality of environmental factors such as light, noise and temperature. Everyone is different, so we need to adapt our environment to suit our own speciﬁc needs and preferences.
Organize your environment to be tailored to your body – your height and proportions. You need to ﬁnd a chair and desk set-up that works for you. Different types of set-up to consider include ofﬁce chairs with adjustable seat height and back support, stools that encourage more activation of the core muscles, kneeling chairs, or sit/stand desks where you alternate sitting with standing to break up sedentary periods. Long periods of standing also come with health risks, so variation and mindfulness are key.
There are many different factors to consider with your set-up – the placement of the monitor and keyboard, the height and angle of your seat and its back support, as well as support for your arms. The arrangement you are aiming for allows your muscles to be held in a neutral position so you can work efﬁciently and reduce strain. For example, the height of arm rests can interfere with the natural alignment of your arms, causing you to tense your neck and shoulder muscles. A chair without arm rests can be better than with arms rests at an awkward height that doesn’t fit with your individual proportions.
Feeling safe is also vital for our wellbeing. Thebes-case scenario is to set yourself up so that you can easily scope the scene around you and maintain the level of privacy that you need to feel at ease. Maximise your comfort by making sure there is good access to natural light and fresh air, and try to create an optimal temperature.
This extract has been taken from Suzy Reading’s new book ‘Sit to Get Fit’ available in our online wellbeing shop and at our South Kensington wellbeing house.