Even if you exercise regularly, sitting at your desk all day will kill you. Literally. One study by the American Cancer Society found that men who sit for six or more hours a day are 20 percent more likely to die from a given cause than men who sit for less than three hours. Other research has linked prolonged daily sitting to high blood pressure, cancer, and diabetes.
On the flip side, scientists have found that physical movement inspires creative problem solving. To craft your own ideal setup, follow these suggestions from Todd Meier, an ergonomics expert at insurance company the Standard, and Carey Fitzgerald, an expert in evolutionary psychology at Michigan’s Oakland University.
How to Make Working at Your Desk into a Healthy Experience
1. A number of pricey treadmill desks have popped up recently, but you’ll get many of the same benefits by simply standing for two-thirds of your day. Ergo Depot’s adjustable-height desk ($750) allows you to create all kinds of workstations. You can even hook up your bike to a trainer—we like the CycleOps SuperMagneto Pro ($400)—with your front tire under your desk.
2. Sitting on a physio ball like the Gymnastik Standard Swiss ($20) corrects your posture and strengthens your core. Ease into it—your abs will be sore after a few hours.
3. Awkward wrist, arm, and shoulder positions lead to muscle knots and carpal tunnel syndrome. Your elbows should dangle even with your keyboard and mouse, and your wrists and forearms should be in a straight line. A keyboard tray makes this easy ($139).
4. To prevent eyestrain, position your computer monitor at least 18 inches from your face. To prevent neck strain, it should be directly in front of you at eye height, tilted up 10 to 20 degrees. Placing it on books works as well as a stand.
5. A 2011 study published in the science journal Nature found that greenery decreases anger and frustration.
6. Simply petting your dog increases your level of oxy-tocin, a.k.a. the love hormone, resulting in lower stress levels.
7. A growing number of studies suggests that images of nature will boost your memory, attention, and concen-tration almost as much as the real thing does.
8. Exposure to sun-light, even if the UVB rays are filtered out by a window, has been shown to improve mood.