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How to set up an ergonomic home office

For hours of sitting at a computer, take steps for comfort

ergonomics, home office, parents, students, keyboard

Zoom meetings, online classrooms, writing assignments, video-watching—they all require both adults and children to spend much of their daily routine at the computer, on a tablet, or staring at a smartphone. To reduce eyestrain, backaches, headaches, neck stiffness, and the like, Yale University's Environmental Health and Safety Department offers these recommendations.

Move around. No matter how carefully you've set up your work space, don't stay in the same position for more than about half an hour. Periodically stand up and stretch, walk, shift the position of your chair. The beauty of having a home office is that household chores become a welcome change from long periods of sitting. Also see our article on movement breaks for kids.

Position your computer. Place your monitor so the center of the screen is at eye level, and you don't have to tuck your chin to see it. You may have to set the monitor on a stack of books or other flat objects.

Take care of your eyes. Look away from the screen every 20 seconds and remind yourself to blink. Make sure there's no glare reflecting on the screen and the room is well-lit.

Sit up straight. We all have a tendency to lean toward the screen. Make sure you have a comfortable chair that's adjusted so you can sit with your back against the chair, maintaining an angle of about 90 degrees at the hip.

Relax your arms. If your keyboard is too far away, you'll have to stretch your arms out to type. You should be able to keep your elbows at your sides.

For tablets and smartphones:

Texting can be hard on the thumbs. Limit typing sessions to 10-15 minutes.

A stylus can help with typing but try to get one with a large handle.

Take breaks to stretch and move, just as on the computer.

Sit in a relaxed, natural posture as much as possible. Try using a support for your device so you're not bending your neck, hunching over, or using your arm muscles to hold it up for a long time.

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