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ealthy Computing Tips

Healthy Computing: Vertically Challenged

© Erik Peper PhD

The following is one in an ongoing series of columns entitled Healthy Computing Tips by Erik Peper PhD. View all columns in series
Are you reaching up to a high keyboard? In order to sit correctly at the keyboard are your feet dangling from a chair that is too high. Is your chair so big that the backs of your calves touch the seat edge? By making the furniture fit you instead of you fitting the furniture, you may reduce tension and feel no longer VERTICALLY CHALLENGED.


Begin by checking your position at the keyboard. Let your upper arms hang straight down, bend your elbows at about 90 to 110 degrees, and keep your forearms and wrists level as you extend your fingers to the keyboard. If you cannot sit that way because the keyboard is too high, then change your keyboard height.

  • The best option is to lower the surface upon which the keyboard is sitting. Cut a few inches from the legs of the table or install an adjustable keyboard tray beneath the desktop (be sure it does not bounce).
  • Raise the height of your body so that your arms are in the correct position. Usually this requires raising the height of the seat of your chair (pillows often work well). Raising your chair height often leads to dangling feet. Raise the floor level so that your feet can rest easily on that surface (telephone books make a good floor cover/footrest).
Regardless how you change the ergonomic situation, take charge and listen to your own body. Check in with your body throughout the day to observe unnecessary tension when typing and mousing. Become proactive! Stop your shoulders from inching upward. Relax your neck, shoulders and arms. Integrate breaks and movements into your computing routine by taking micro-breaks every minute (e.g., drop your hands to your lap at every opportunity, such as at the end of a paragraph or when waiting for the computer to process your input), and get up from the desk and walk around. Remember, human beings are made for movement and not immobility.

Copyright 2003 Erik Peper, Ph.D. and Katherine Hughes Gibney
Permission to copy and distribute Healthy Computing Email Tips for personal use is granted. Distribution or copying of Healthy Computing Email Tips for commercial purposes is prohibited without prior written consent of the copyright holders

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About The Author
Erik Peper, Ph.D. is an international authority on biofeedback and self-regulation. He is Professor and Co-Director of the Institute for Holistic Healing Studies, Department of Health Education, at San Francisco State University. He is President of the Biofeedback Foundation of Europe (2005) and past President of the Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback.......more
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