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August 22, 2019

Ergonomics 101: How to avoid fatigue with a desk job

Sitting for six hours a day at work carries increased risk for high blood pressure, diabetes and even cancer

Prevention Workplace
Design Desk Eyewear 08222019 Photo by Pexels


By now we have all read many articles warning us that our desk jobs are slowly killing us. Do you experience a lot of neck, back, wrist pain and eye strain after long work days? Are you so tired after sitting all day staring at a screen that it is hard to get motivated to exercise after work?

Studies by doctors like James Levine, an endocrinologist at the Mayo Clinic, have shown associations between spending more than six hours a day sitting at a desk with an increased risk for high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, depression and even some types of cancers. And this even in people who exercise regularly.

Unfortunately, the desk job isn’t going away any time soon though, so how are we supposed to combat the fatigue, pain and increased health risks? Stay in control of your health with these tips.


First of all, the design of your workspace including the height of your chair and the spacing of your equipment does matter.

According to the Mayo Clinic, your monitor should be at arm’s length away and you should adjust your chair height so your knees are about level with your hips. Your chair should also provide good back support.

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When it comes to proper posture while you are sitting at your desk, the University of Michigan advises: “Sit ‘tall’ aligning your ears, shoulders and hips. When you sit, think about making yourself an inch taller.”

There are also equipment like standing desks, ergonomically-designed mice and keyboard wrist rest pads that can help reduce discomfort and fatigue. Make sure though that you do your research first before investing in any of these.


You should also take breaks from typing to rest your wrists completely and do stretches and relaxation techniques at your desk about every 20 minutes throughout your workday. Rotate your neck, shoulders and arms, move your head side to side and sit up straighter and stretch your back. If you experience a lot of eye strain, peel your eyes away from that screen at regular intervals and focus on something new. Your feet need movement, too, so flex those toes and move your feet around under your desk.

Other ways to get more movement in your workday include (Sources: Penn Medicine, Mayo Clinic and MindBodyGreen):

• Get up and walk around the office every hour. Stop by a colleague’s desk to talk about a project or run to the mailroom or the cafeteria. You can even just take a quick walk around the building to stretch your legs and clear the cobwebs out of your head.

• Adopt walking meetings instead of the traditional sitdown meeting in the conference room.

• Take the stairs instead of the elevator.

• Park further away from your building or get off the bus or train at an earlier stop so you have to walk a little more.

Remember that a desk job doesn’t have to mean you are chained to your desk all day. Get up and move around as much as possible to better protect your health.

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