“Sitting is the new smoking” and “sitting disease” were coined to address the sedentary epidemic so many of us face, simply by sitting in front of a computer all day. For thousands of years, humans moved their bodies to get places, to get work done, and to be entertained.
Thanks to the wonderful advances of technology in the mid-20th century — cars, televisions, and computers — our bodies were forced to evolve. Except they can’t fully evolve to a sedentary lifestyle, because our bodies are designed to move.
As a freelancer, you know just how much sitting sucks. But you can’t survive without your computer since your livelihood depends on it.
Here’s how to counteract sitting all day with simple remedies:
Set up a flexible work-from-home space
“Keep your body guessing” is one of the best ways to train your body when you’re working out. The same rule applies when you’re working from home. The goal is to avoid sitting too much, but also… not to stand too much.
An adjustable desk makes it easy to alternate between sitting and standing. Another option is to have separate work stations at home, one sitting and one standing. You might have a sweet vintage sit-down desk that you refuse to part with because that’s where the magic happens. So, have a sit-down writing nook for focus time and another bar height table or desk for tasks you like to complete on your feet.
Be mindful of equipment and body positioning
Even the nicest adjustable desk won’t help your body if you’re twisting your head and tweaking your neck all day. When you set up your work-from-home space, experiment with screen positioning and furniture height until you get it right. Also be mindful of your body’s alignment while sitting or standing.
Here are some helpful tips from OSHA:
- Adjust your monitor so the top of the monitor is at or just below eye level.
- Have adequate room for your keyboard and mouse.
- Level your chin so it’s parallel to the floor.
- Relax your shoulders and keep them in-line with your hips.
- Use a chair that has proper lumbar support when sitting.
- Keep your feet flat — and keep hands, wrists, and forearms straight.
Take consistent breaks and move your body
Growing your freelance business depends on quality output. Consistent breaks are necessary for optimal mind-body health and the success of your business.
If you struggle to step away from your computer, there are tons of free apps to help remind you when it’s time to take a break, such as this Chrome Extension, Break Timer. This nifty app called DeskFit reminds you to do something at random every 15, 30, or 60 minutes from a list of actions you provide (e.g. take a walk, stretch, etc.).
On your break, choose an activity that involves standing or moving. Since you work-from-home, an easy way to do this is to take care of a house chore, like laundry or dishes. You have the freedom to go for a walk anytime, so walk often.
Stretches and mobility exercises are life-savers for computer bodies.
- Downward Dog
- Cat-Cow (Cat Pose and Cow Pose)
- Wide-Legged Forward Bend
- Cobra Pose
- Figure-Four Stretch
- Lay down with knees bent and feet on the floor.
- Side stretches with hands clasped overhead.
Low-intensity activities, stretching, and mobility work do wonders to clear out the negative effects of sitting at your computer. Bonus: These healthy break activities also clear out your mind so you reach higher productivity levels.
The average person sits 12 hours per day, so it’s no surprise that physical inactivity is the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality. Always choose to stand or move to combat the negative effects of sitting. That way the times you do need to sit won’t be as detrimental to your body.