Working on a computer

Healthy Computing: Daily Athlete

Optimize your performance and prevent computer-related injuries with Healthy Computing  Tips. Each week we provide hints to help you stay healthier while working.


Computing is an athletic event. It requires the frequent use of certain muscles hour after hour, day after day. In fact, when we work at the computer we use our upper extremity muscles more than any world class athlete would (do you know of any marathon runner who runs 5 days a week, 8 hours per day?). Thus, fitness is an important component in staying healthy at the computer. Yet, when we are done with our workday, travel home, and tend to family needs, most of us don’t have an hour to go to the gym, leaving us in an unhealthy cycle of inactivity. Reverse this trend and improve your health when you become a Daily Athlete.

How to Become a Daily Athlete:

Exercise can be done as you work or tend to your daily chores. Following are some ideas for exercise:

  • Take a movement/exercise break just as you take a coffee break.
  • Take a walk with your colleagues instead of meeting them for coffee or lunch.
  • Walk up or down the stairs instead of taking the elevator–if you can’t walk up, at least walk down until you build up your strength.
  • When the phone rings, stand up and walk in place or do squats while talking.
  • Do a few chair crunches each day to strengthen your abdominal muscles–pull your pelvic bones and lower ribs closer together. Follow crunches with abdominal stretches.
  • When sitting in meetings, lift one leg then, the other, alternating as if you were walking.
  • Do wall or desk push-offs to strengthen your arms–vary the position of your arms so that you use your muscles differently.
  • Take a stroll around the block with your whole family after dinner.
  • Get off or on the bus one stop earlier.
  • Take at least 10 minutes to walk during your lunch break.
  • Sit on a gym ball instead of a chair while working at the computer.
  • When riding public transportation, place your briefcase or purse between your knees and gently press your legs together, while sitting up straight, which will help to strengthen your inner thighs and lower back.
  • Take a break from computing and make large circles with your arms, circling for 15 seconds in each direction.
  • When watching TV at night, do so while gently exercising, such as walking in place, doing crunches, squeezing a small ball, or pressing a pillow between your knees (avoid over exerting at night as it can interfere with sleep).
  • Awaken 15 minutes earlier and begin your day with a brisk, 15-minute walk.

Keep a daily log of your different exercise activities and times. Ask a co-worker to team-up with you for support and companionship. Do some simple exercise or stretch at least every hour.

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Erik Peper PhD Written by Erik Peper PhD

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