Health hazards of sitting: how do you reduce fatigue?

There are many health hazards for sitting down too long, some that are demonstrated in the infographic below. As web developers it’s unavoidable, so I was wondering what tips and tricks others have when it comes to making sure we aren’t sitting down too long.

Personally, I try to get up every hour for a quick walk, usually around my desk and back. I try to change where my eyes are looking every half hour to help with depth-perception but I sometimes forget! “Try” being the operative word for both these things :wink:

What are your tips and tricks for making the most of time spent at a desk and reducing fatigue?

Infographic from The Washington Post.

I was recently encouraged to join a “stretch class”. I wasn’t really keen on the idea, but went along and was really surprised. There’s a lot more to stretch exercises than I thought. (There are lots of techniques that I’ve since noticed are common to a lot of disciplines, from Yoga to Pilates to Feldenkrais.) Anyhow, it’s amazing how many things there are to stretch. (The body has a heck of a lot of muscles, and there are lots of ways to stretch and engage each one.)

The brain gets into patterns based on how we behave, and stretch excercises—done in the right way—can unwind those patterns. I’ve been feeling fantastic since doing them regularly. For those of us in front of a screen each day, it’s important to do exercises that reset the neck, back and hip muscles in particular. So as well as having an exercise session each day, I regularly move away from the screen at regular intervals to do a quick stretch or two. I feel so much better these days.

Some people advocate stretch exercises as a complete exercise routine that you could even practice if you were confined in a small space like a prison cell. So I figure there’s no excuse for me to be unfit—despite my captivity in this small office!


I drink a lot of herbal tea, which means I get up from my desk about once an hour to either heat up the kettle or head to the bathroom. I also like to take a long walk during lunchtime.

A few years ago I herniated a spinal disc, most likely caused by weak abdominal muscles from sitting down so much. The physiotherapy bills alone were enough to get me into the habit of moving!


Upon the advice of my chiropractor, I get up every hour or hour-and-a-half. Being a smoker, I step outside and let my eyes frequently switch focus from near to far. When at my desk, I try to follow the “20s rule” (every 20 minutes focus on something 20 feet away for 20 seconds).

I also like to browse around SPF, help where I can, maybe learn something new, then back to work.



Even sitting up straight puts pressure on the tailbone/spinal cord (I think more). Try leaning back in the chair at around 135* as it distributes your weight better. I didn’t read this entire article, but the imagery shows what I do:

There was an article about this in one of Running Bear’s running magazines a couple of years ago, and he managed to get me quite worried about it. That’s when I installed Workrave, which I have set for a short break every twenty minutes. (The period the magazine recommended.) Interestingly, I then discovered that in the summer, I seldom get to sit that long anyway.

In the winter, Running Bear works primarily as an artist, and works from home. He’s downstairs and I’m upstairs, and he brings me cups of herbal tea at frequent intervals (he’s a tea jenny ), saving me the bother of going down to the kitchen. He’s also nearer the door to deal with callers, etc.

In the summer, he works primarily at his cycle hire and repair business at the other end of the village. I then seem to spend half my life running up and down the stairs - to put the washing out, answer the door, make a cup of tea, answer the door, put more washing out, chase after the coalman to pay him, make more tea, realise it’s raining - quick, rescue the washing - and so it goes on. (We get a lot more callers at the house in the summer, because lost tourists wanting bike hire keep being misdirected here by helpful locals. You’d think Google maps on his website would solve that problem, but no. )

We do try to go for a walk together most days, and in the winter we generally manage to fit in a longer walk, which (hopefully) makes up at least in part for my lack of stair-running.


I use a treadmill desk and this problem doesn’t exist.

I have been using a StandDesk for a couple of months now and I love it. I backed their Kickstarter campaign last year, as did fellow SitePointers @beley and @Crowe. We’re all happy customers. :slight_smile: I love mine because of the memory feature. I found my perfect standing spot and my perfect sitting spot and have them programmed. When I want to stand, I hit a button and it goes exactly where I want. Practically no disruption. Same for sitting back down. Love it.


I have to say that I am not convinced at all… Don’t get me wrong. I’m sure that all those benefits of Stand desks are true… if you only work for a couple of hours. But everyone that has a job where she/he has to be standing all the time will tell you all the issue you can have. Standing all the time is bad for your blood circulation too. Waiters, shop assistants, etc. can tell you

Is anyone trying to convince you that standing all day is a good thing? Not sure I read that here. If so, then I agree with you. But from what I have read, standing all the time is bad and sitting all the time is bad. That’s why I do a mix. Up for an hour or two, down for an hour or two. That’s why it was so important that my desk make it easy for me to switch.

I work at all hours and try to (loosely) keep in mind how I spend my non-work time, too. For example, I might work for an hour or two standing, but then it’s dinner. I might sit for an hour or two and watch TV. Then I’ll go back to work, standing again. :slight_smile:

When you see the ad is not really clear. It does make you look like you have to be standing all the time. I work 8-9 hours in an office and then I get home and I do some freelance work or I give some classes. If I’m giving classes, I’m normally standing because, well, you’re talking to a bunch of people. But if I’m working on a website, then I’m sitting… again :slight_smile:

I had a problem with my back and constant pain in my leg because of sitting. It was sciatica. Since then I’ve gotten rid of this affliction by using this sitting pillow.

It doesn’t replace exercise though.


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I have two cartons under my desk that I hoist out from time to time and put under my keyboard/mouse. They originally contained mineral water and are reinforced with large tape. They are strong enough I can lean on them somewhat. I think that’s the simplest combination you can find.

I have terrible posture. I have an extra vertebra in my spine, too, so that doesn’t help I’m sure. It’s extremely noticeable and makes me look like I have even poorer posture. My mother has it too, and I’m not exactly sure what it’s about but it’s apparently fine. Someone once told me I should get it removed… I’m pretty sure you can’t get part of your spine taken out though :stuck_out_tongue:

When I’m at home I stretch a lot, which is super helpful. I also crack my neck and back a lot which really helps my pain but I don’t really know if it’s good for me or not. I’m slightly too embarrassed to stretch at work but I feel like it’s getting to a point where I will have to.

Stretching club anyone? Yoga breaks? :wink:

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