How to keep fit at your desk

Posted on: September 7th, 2010

A few weeks ago I went to a chiropractor because my upper arm was hurting. I thought I’d strained it lifting a weight in a class at the gym. But no, it was because I spend so long at my computer each day. By sitting hunched over my computer, I’m developing round shoulders which is weakening my pec muscles. This, in turn, has affected the muscle in my arm.

So, I’ve now got a whole load of daily stretching and strengthening exercises that will (hopefully) rectify the problem.

Useful tips if you’re at your screen all day

As freelancers, we spend a great deal of time at our computers. Well, unless you are a freelance personal trainer or musician or something else that’s non-office bound. But I suspect most of us pass the majority of the day sitting staring at a screen. So, here are some tips I have picked up along the way that I thought would be useful to share with you.

  • Try not to spend more than 45 minutes at a time sitting in your chair. Get up, walk about and stretch for a minute or two.
  • Make sure your computer screen is at eye level. This can be a problem if you work on a laptop. I’ve got my screen on top of a couple of thick tomes to avoid having to stare downwards all the time.
  • Also make sure your screen is close enough to you. If you have it too far away from you, the tendency is to stick your neck forward.
  • Buy a chair that’s fully adjustable and make sure it’s adjusted properly for you. I know a phsyiotherapist and an osteopath who have dispensed with chairs altogether and sit at their desks on a Swiss ball. They both told me it’s better for the posture.
  • Sit square on, facing your computer screen and don’t cross your legs.
  • You probably think you are sitting fairly upright when at your desk (I did) but the likelihood is you will be hunched as you type. To compensate for sitting in this position, here are some useful stretching exercises.

Stretching exercises

  • Keyboarding every day puts a strain on our arms, so a good way to stretch these muscles is as per the photo below:

arm stretch

  • Roll a bath towel into a sausage shape and lie on the carpet with the towel under your spine. Stretch your arms right out so you are in a T position and hold for at least 20 seconds. This helps to stretch your pec muscles.
  • Kneel on all fours and round your back into a cat stretch. Then arch your back. Repeat four times. This helps with spine flexibility.

neck stretch

  • It’s also good to stretch out the neck, so put your hands behind you head and let your head fall forward for 15 seconds. You will feel the stretch down the back of your neck. Then hold the side of your head with your left hand and gently lean your head to the left, as per the photo above. You will feel the stretch down the right hand side of your neck. Repeat to the other side.

Repeat these exercises at the end of every day.

How do you compensate for the fact you spend so long at your computer each day?

7 Responses to “How to keep fit at your desk”

  1. Pawel @ Self Employed Cafe
    September 7th, 2010

    You know what, another hit in between the eyes.
    I spend most of the day behind my desk and recently started feeling that it’s time to take breaks during the day (not to mention some gym or swimming pool).
    Thanks for the tips Carole, they were badly needed ;)

  2. Carole
    September 7th, 2010

    You’re welcome, Pawel. I’m just about to take a short break – to buy cat food. Not very exciting, I know, but it will involve about 15 minutes’ walking and will be a rest for my eyes from all that staring at the screen.

  3. Susan
    September 7th, 2010

    Hey Carole. Fantastic help! Thank you…. only last week my upper arms were hurting and I didn’t know why (as I’m not an exercise person!). Hey presto; doing the exercises now and aches have gone. Thanks for the tips (and BTW: love your website).

  4. Carole
    September 7th, 2010

    Wow, Susan that was a speedy result! The other exercise that my chiropractor gave me that stretches your forearms is to place the heel of your palms on the side of a table, with your finger tips facing you, and straighten your arms. Hold for 20 seconds.

    Then place the backs of your hands on the table (slightly tricky on the wrists), again with your fingertips facing you, and straighten your arms.

    Tricep stretches are quite good, too.

  5. Carole
    September 7th, 2010

    And thanks for saying you love my website, Susan. You know who designed it, don’t you!

  6. Howdy! This is kind of off topic but I need some advice from an established blog.
    Is it tough to set up your own blog? I’m not very techincal but I can figure things out
    pretty quick. I’m thinking about creating my own but I’m
    not sure where to begin. Do you have any tips or suggestions?

  7. Carole Seawert
    June 17th, 2014

    Hi packers and movers in Delhi,

    I got someone to help me with the technical side. If you are stuck on what to write about and how to deal with the writing side of starting a blog, I have an online self-study course. Here’s the link:

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