Advice & Tips

How to sit at your workstation

Your eyes should be level with the top of your display screen, which should be straight in front of you, if possible.

Do not wedge the telephone between your ear and shoulder. If you are right handed, hold it in your left hand so that you can make notes if necessary. If it is a long call, you can change from ear to ear. Consider a head set if being on the phone is a large part of your job.

You should adjust the angle of the backrest so it is inclined slightly backwards, and you can rest against it comfortably. Do not lean forwards.

Ensure that your low back is supported. If your chair does not have a lumbar support, you could try making one by rolling up a small towel or cushion.

Do not sit for too long. Stand up and stretch every hour or so.

If possible, adjust the angle of your seat so that your hips are slightly higher than your knees.

Always use a copyholder if you are working from documents. If you are a copy typist, you may prefer to have the copy holder straight in front of you.

Rest your finger tips lightly on the home (middle) row of keys.

Position the keyboard about 10 cm from the front of the desk.

Place your mouse within easy reach and support your forearm on the desk.

To achieve the position described above, you will need to adjust the height of your work chair, and sit close to your desk.

Having achieved this position, you may find you need a footrest.

Your wrists should be straight, and your forearms parallel to the desk top.

Your elbows should be at right angles, with your upper arms relaxed at the side of your body.

Fit to Work

If you spend your working day sat at a desk then it is important to take regular breaks and to stretch.

Try to arrange your work so that you achieve a mix of sitting still and moving around. Get your body moving by doing a few exercises every hour or so, to reduce the risk of developing computer-related aches and pains. This will also increase circulation, send more oxygen to the brain, and help you stay alert. All the exercises should be done gently. Sit comfortably in a chair and take five slow, deep breaths before starting the exercises. Breathing should be relaxed throughout.

Exercises

Stand up Put the heel of your hand into your lower back. Draw your elbows back and down. Keeping your head and neck steady with your chin tucked in, slowly arch your back and look to the ceiling.

Forwards press Gently interlock your fingers. Press your palms away from your body, gently stretching the forearm muscles, fingers, and the muscles between your shoulder blades. Hold for five seconds.

Turning from side to side Rotate your head left then right, taking care to keep your eyes on the horizon and aiming your chin at your shoulders. Use your eyes to focus on something in the distance. Repeat three times.

Chin tuck Sitting tall, imagine you are suspended by a piece of string from the crown of your head. Keeping eyes level with the horizon, tuck your chin in to make a double chin. Hold for five seconds. Repeat three times.

Shoulder shrug Keep your shoulders back and lift them towards your ears, breathing in slowly. Tighten the muscles in your shoulders and hold for five seconds. Breathe out as you drop the shoulders. Repeat three times.

Elbow flare Put your hands behind your neck, loosely grasped. Keep head and neck tall. Squeeze below the shoulder blades and take elbows back, taking care not to press on the neck. Hold for five seconds.

Reproduced from a Chartered Society of Physiotherapy poster on posture and exercise at work.

Keeping active

Do you suspect you’re slowing down?
Take the timed online Get Up and Go test to see if you could be steadier on your feet.
Visit www.csp.org.uk/timedupandgo to find out more.

Are you at risk of a fall?
One in three people over the age of 65 years will have a fall this year.
Half of all people over 80 will fall at least once a year.
Read the falls prevention tips at www.saga.co.uk/falls.

Could you improve your fitness?
We all know the importance of being physically active and the good news is that just 10 continuous minutes of brisk walking counts as physical activity. Brisk walking is simply walking faster than you would do normally, which gets the heart pumping, makes you feel more energetic and helps to improve your mood. Over time it can also help to lower the risk of serious illness like heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Active 10 has a free app you can download which includes tips and encouragement to help you fit ten-minute brisk walking sessions into your daily routine. It also tells you how much brisk walking you are currently doing as well as helping you to slowly build up from just 10 minutes of exercise to 30 minutes a day by providing regular rewards, challenges and encouragement.

Active 10 is the latest physical activity campaign from the One You programme, devised by Public Health England. One You is the first national programme that seeks to encourage adults to make positive changes to their everyday behaviours that could see them avoid many of the diseases caused by modern day lifestyles.

The One You campaign provides positive lifestyle messages on areas such as smoking cessation, eating, drinking, sleeping and moving to inform, energise and engage millions of adults, especially those in middle age. One You also provides information on free health checks and how people can reduce their stress levels and sleep better.

Resources you need

This 10-minute quiz will give you an idea of improvements you can make to better your long-term health. www.nhs.uk/oneyou/hay

Visit the Active 10 website to fine out more about Public Health England’s Active 10 and One You Campaigns. Download the app to see how much brisk walking you currently do and set new targets for physical activity. www.nhs.uk/oneyou/active10

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