Around 82% of all workers spend the majority of their working day seated. 65% of these people develop musculoskeletal (MSK) issues like back pain. Most cases could have been prevented with healthier working habits.
Feeling like you’ve been chained to your desk all day? You’re not alone. The average desk worker spends 9 hours a day seated, often with poor posture and little movement. It’s no wonder that MSK issues like neck, back, wrist and shoulder pain are rife amongst the desk working population.
Your working routine and habits are key dimensions of your overall wellbeing. The sedentary lifestyle associated with desk work is often at odds with the habits we need for a healthy life, such as frequent breaks and fresh air. This is certainly the case for remote workers. Research shows people tend to work longer hours with fewer breaks compared to working in an office.
Did you know? A survey of 2,000 U.S. workers shows that 60% of remote workers feel guilty taking breaks whilst working from home and 30% don’t take a lunch break at all.
How to adopt healthier working habits
Around 40% of your everyday behaviour is repeated in the form of habits. They play a huge part in your physical and mental wellbeing, happiness and quality of life. Adopting healthier habits can help you keep work-related MSK issues like back pain at bay.
Here are eight simple habits you can build into your routine, and encourage your team to start doing too, for a healthier, pain-free working life:
1. Incorporate short bursts of physical activity
Movement is essential for a healthy lifestyle, but around 82% of people spend most of their working day seated. Being in a static position in front of a computer creates tension in your muscles, restricts your joint mobility and ultimately causes pain.
Exercise is one of the most beneficial things you can do to improve your physical wellbeing. Incorporating movement into your working day can help prevent stiffness, improve circulation and reduce stress. Just a few short bursts of light activity can make a big difference over time!
VIDA Pain Coach is a personalised pain management programme with tailored exercises to help you and your team stay active and keep work-related pain at bay.
2. Maintain good posture whilst working at your desk
Poor posture can put extra stress on your musculoskeletal system, leading to a host of physical health problems. Adopting good posture whilst sitting at your desk will reduce your risk of injury.
Did you know? 71% of employees who have good posture emit a higher level of confidence.
Vitrue VIDA assesses your desk posture through your webcam, producing clinically-validated recommendations to improve your posture, workspace and overall wellbeing.
Download our handy infographic to learn how to adopt good posture whilst working at a desk.
3. Take frequent breaks
Our bodies aren’t designed to sit all day. It’s important to take frequent breaks throughout the day to stretch your muscles, move around and change position. Regular breaks from looking at your computer can also help reduce the risk of developing eye strain. Better still, go outside for some fresh air and reset your mind!
Our exclusive data on pain trends in desk workers revealed that taking more breaks led to a 50% reduction in neck pain in our large cohort analysis. Vitrue VIDA recommends several effective techniques like the Pomodoro method to help you and your team incorporate short, frequent breaks throughout the day.
4. Sit near a window for maximum natural light
Exposure to natural light during the working day can have a huge impact on your mood, productivity and job satisfaction. 47% of employees reported higher rates of eyestrain and fatigue in working environments with only artificial lighting.
Try to sit near a window and bask in those natural rays! In any case, check you have decent lighting in your work area to protect yourself from eyestrain and position your screen to avoid reflections and glare.
5. Eat lunch away from your desk
Stepping away from your desk at lunch has many of the same health benefits as taking regular breaks. You’re also more likely to overeat if you eat lunch at your desk, which can have negative effects on your physical wellbeing over time.
If you have a busy calendar, it can be tricky to find time to get away from your desk at lunchtime. Software like Clockwise can help you optimise your schedule to ensure you always have time for a break from your overflowing inbox!
6. Reduce clutter on your desk
Clear desk, clear mind. A cluttered desk can increase your stress levels at work, affecting your overall wellbeing. Keeping your workspace clean and organised can help improve your creativity and efficiency in your job.
Creating ergonomic work zones will help you arrange the items on your desk according to how often you need them, which will help improve your productivity and minimise physical strain.
7. Stay hydrated
Make sure you drink enough water throughout the working day. Dehydration can cause fatigue, headaches and difficulty concentrating. Aim for 2 litres of water a day to stay hydrated and focused at work.
Having a water bottle on your desk also encourages good habits like taking breaks to refill it, reducing your risk of developing pain.
8. Use ergonomic equipment
There are many proven benefits of workplace ergonomics, from reducing work-related pain to improving productivity and retention. People who use a laptop stand to position their laptop at the correct height are half as likely to have neck and back pain. Even the most simple ergonomic equipment like wrist rests can lower your risk of developing work-related pain by up to three times.
An investment in ergonomic furniture is an investment in employee wellbeing. VIDA analytics gives you insight into your team’s workplace setups and pain levels, helping you spend your ergonomic equipment budget wisely on the things that will make the biggest impact for your team.
Adopting these eight healthy habits will help you and your team improve your wellbeing and reduce your risk of developing MSK issues like back pain. For more information on how VIDA can help you create a healthier workplace, get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org ortry out VIDA yourself for free!