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Exercise at Your Cubicle

Sitting in your office cubicle working on the computer all day long is not exactly good for your body.  If you have to sit at a cubicle workstation or executive desk for an extended period of time, try doing some of these simple things to improve your posture and health. 

 

 

  • Sit properly in an ergonomic task chairYour back should be straight, your shoulders back, and the top of your monitor should be level with your eyes. If you have to look down or up, you need to adjust the height of your screen. Also, make sure that your wrists do not lay on the keyboard or on the mousepad (unless you have a pad with a wrist rest). This will help prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Keep your legs bent at the knees so that the knees are only slightly higher than your hips. Feet should be flat on the floor or on a step stool of some sort.
  • Stand up every half hour to stretch or walk around a bit.
  • Stretch your calves, and give your eyes a break from focusing on your computer screen. This will also help prevent blood clots from developing in your legs. Blood clots are very common among middle-aged computer users.
  • Learn to stretch. To stretch your neck, flex your head forward/backward, side to side and look right and left. Never roll your head around your neck. This could cause damage to the joints of the neck.
  • Roll your wrists regularly (this will help prevent carpal tunnel syndrome if you spend a lot of time typing).
  • Roll your ankles regularly, this helps improve blood circulation (and that tingling feeling you can get when blood circulation is cut off, also known as “Pins and Needles”).
  • Notice if you tend to hunch in front of the keyboard. To counter that, perform the following exercise: open your arms wide as if you are going to hug someone, rotate your wrists externally (thumbs going up and back) and pull your shoulders back. This stretch is moving your body the opposite way to being hunched and you should feel a good stretch across your upper chest.
  • Contract your abdominal and gluteal muscles, hold them there for a few seconds, then release. Repeat this for every few minutes all day long while you are working at your desk.
  • Take advantage of the downtime created by rebooting or large file downloads to get up and try something more ambitious such as doing a few push ups, sit ups and/or jumping jacks. Beware of your snickering co-workers though.
  • Acquire a hand gripper. They are inexpensive, small and light. When you have to read something either on the screen or on paper, you probably won’t be using your hands very often so squeeze your gripper. It is an excellent forearm workout.
  • Acquire an elastic band (also cheap, small and light) and use it to stretch your arms, legs, neck and torso while sitting. When stretching your arms, do it by pulling apart the elastic band. You will not only stretch but it will also work the muscles slightly.
  • Take a few deep breaths. If possible, get some fresh air in your lungs.
  • While sitting, lift up your legs on the balls of your feet and set them down. Repeat these until your legs are comfortably tired. Then repeat it again about 10 minutes later. Do this whole routine for about an hour or so. This will exercise your calves.
  • Have a bottle of water by your side and make a habit of drinking some every half hour. If you do this consistently you will begin to feel more alert.

  • A good stretch for your arms and shoulders is to brace your hands on the edge your desk, each about a shoulder width away from your body. Twist your hands in so they point towards your body and lean forwards, hunching your shoulders.  Take this a step further and push your shoulders and elbows closer to the desk.

  • Don’t neglect the health of your eyes. It is detrimental to your eyesight to focus on one thing for long periods of time (i.e. your monitor)  so take breaks to look out the window and focus on something at a further distance away to maintain good ocular health. Also, consider purchasing an LCD screen which is easier on the eyes. If you are at your computer screen for long periods of time, optometrists recommend following the “20-20-20″ rule. For every 20 minutes spent focusing on your computer screen, spend 20 seconds focusing on something else 20 feet away.

 

As long as something is moving, you will be helping to keep yourself in better shape. Constant movement will burn calories and contribute to cardiovascular health. While exercising at your office cubicle is helpful, it is not a substitute for going to the gym or conducting a regular exercise program.