Monday, 19 September 2011

Meet you at the water cooler – The importance of regular pause breaks from computer work

We weren't designed to sit at a desk for 8+ hours a day. We were made to move around and be mobile. Even with an amazingly ergonomic workstation setup, it still does not make up for the fact that most people limit their movement to periods between sleeping (8 hours), travelling (2 hours), eating (1.5 hours), working (8 hours) and unwinding at home infront of the TV or computer (2-4 hours). Doesn't leave much movement time does it?

No matter how perfect your work environment, prolonged static postures will inhibit blood circulation and take a toll on your body.When muscles remain stationary, circulation decreases, muscles get tired, and tasks become more uncomfortable to perform. Not to mention the follow on effects of feeling lethargic and decreased concentration.

Here are some tips to get you moving at work:
  • Take short 1-2 minute stretch breaks every 30 minutes
  • After each hour of work, take a break or change tasks for at least 5-10 minutes
  • Always try to get away from your computer during lunch breaks, even if to take a short walk around the block
  • If your printer is on your desk, print to another printer in the office which will force you to walk to get printouts
  • Fill a glass of water rather than a jug or large bottle of water. This will encourage more trips to the water cooler / kitchen for refills
  • Walk over to colleagues to talk to them rather than email or instant message
  • Take the stairs rather than the lift (if you work on the 20th floor, perhaps get out at level 15 and take the stairs for the rest of the way.. gradually increase flights of stairs as able)
There are many more ways to build incidental movement into your work day. What others can you think of?

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