Have you ever felt body and eye fatigue while working on a computer for a whole day? Is there a way to reduce or even eliminate it?
Let me start with the law and as according to the Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations from 1992 every employer should plan work activities for computer users in a way that reduces their workload on display screen equipment by periodical interruptions or changes of activity. This basically implies that an employee who spends all day in front of a computer should take short breaks away from the computer to perform different work-related activities or take breaks to allow the body and eyes to relax, helping the employee to work more effectively. The law then says that breaks are there to allow the person to vary their body posture so exercise routines such as stretching the whole body, blinking and focusing eyes on objects in the distance are advisable.
Sounds do-able, but how can you do that and how much time can you allow for these activities?
Timewise the law suggests that shorter and more frequent breaks are more beneficial than occasional and longer ones, so taking a 5-10 minute break after 50-60 minutes of nonstop screen work is better than a 15-minute break every 2 hours.
Here I would like to give suggestions on small exercises you can do in 5 minutes to relax and awaken your body:
Start with the best sitting position for exercises at the desk which is the posture of the body where the back is straight, feet on the floor, and the angle in the knees is 90 degrees. Do a minute of each exercise.
Neck: To loosen the tense neck muscles, do some slow circulations to the right and to the left. Now, tilt your head to the right as if you wanted to touch your shoulder with your ear. With your right hand, lightly press your head. Do the same exercises on the left side too.
Legs workout: Sit straight. Raise one leg at a hip height and hang for 10-15 seconds, straining your muscles. Lower your leg and change the side. Alternate legs for one minute.
Legs stretch: Lift your right foot and place it sidewise on your left knee. Slightly lean to the front keeping the back straight. You should feel a gentle stretching of the outer part of the right leg. Do the same exercises on the left side. Stretch for 30 seconds each side.
Time to stand up, stand facing your desk and your posture in standing is with your back being straight and legs hip width apart.
Arms and ABSs: Place your hands on the desk so that the handrail rests against the border of the countertop, and your fingers rest on it. Move two or three steps back and lean down so that your body creates a straight line. Now tense your abs muscles and bend your elbows by bringing your chest closer to the desk with breath in then lift up with breath out. When you lift up breath out bringing your bellybutton in and tighten your abdominal muscles. Repeat for one minute.
Arm stretches: Stand upright, take a deep breath and exhale, then raise your arms over your head as high as you can. Alternately, extend your arms even higher. Do the exercise for 20 seconds. The second part of this stretch is the cross-body shoulder stretch. Grab one arm above your elbow with your opposite hand and pull it across your body toward your chest until you feel a stretch in your shoulder. Hold for at 20 seconds and then repeat on the other side.
This series of ‘behind the desk’ exercises do not replace real relaxation and longer workouts but are definitely a good start to keeping active!
Guest blog from Kasia Wypiorczyk – Fitness and Life Coach based in Edinburgh who offers tailored 1-2-1 personal training and life coaching sessions. Kasia also offers a Wellness-Fit Corporate programme for office workers to help boost their productivity. Check out her website www.risadalifestyle.com for more information and to book your sessions today.