Want to live longer? Sit up straight and pay attention

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 27 September, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 27 September, 2011, 12:00am


Computer Ergonomics
99 US cents (for iPhone and iPad)
Rating 8/10

I sit more than six hours daily at my desk, which, according to a study by the American Cancer Society, makes me 37 per cent more likely to die prematurely than women who sit fewer than three hours a day. In an effort to dramatically reduce my risk of premature death by desk job, I downloaded this app and realised my desk lifestyle was wrong in so many ways.

The app has two parts: the first provides a diagram and guidelines for the optimal seated position; the second is an animated video series of 16 exercises or stretches that you can do at or beside your desk.

The ways in which my desk, seat, computer and keyboard are arranged wrongly in relation to each other and my body are too many to list. I realise that having a laptop is a big problem.

The app suggests that while I'm working, my elbows should be bent at a 90-degree angle, my head should not tilt forward more than 15 degrees, and my knees should be slightly lower than my hips.

In fact, my chair is too low and can't be raised, so my knees are higher than my hips; my shoulders are hunched up around my ears, so I raise my forearms to reach the keyboard; the elbow angle is closer to 15 degrees; and because the screen is at desktop level, my head tilts forward like a cow eating grass.

The app suggests some standard stretches, such as shoulder shrugs, but also some that were new to me, like desk marching, which involves raising one leg at a time and swinging the arms while seated.

The animations are quite clunky, but at 99 US cents I'm not complaining. After all, this is a matter of life and death.