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ealthy Computing Tips

Healthy Computing: Laptopitis

© 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
Optimize your performance and prevent computer-related injuries with Healthy Computing Email Tips. Each week we provide hints to help you stay healthier while working.
"Can't you leave the computer at work instead of being married to it and taking it on our vacation?" is no longer an uncommon complaint. The ubiquitous laptop is used at work, in subways, planes, cars and on the kitchen table, writing desk and sometimes even in bed. In the constant use of the laptop, we often collapse to see the screen or place our hands at incorrect heights. Presently more laptops are sold than desktops. Optimize the ergonomic environment and reduce LAPTOPITIS.


Optimize the ergonomic set up and check your angles.

  • Are your hands too high because the laptop is on a kitchen table or regular desk? Raise your seat so that your elbows are in a 85-110 degree range and your writs are level (e.g., sit on a pillow).
  • Are you tilting your head down to read the screen?
    Look down with your eyes while holding your head slightly more erect. Take every opportunity not to look at the screen while you work. Move and rotate your head from side to side and back and forth. Curl and uncurl your spine by gently arching and rounding your back and neck.
  • Use a laptop stand for convenience (see with an external split keyboard (see, mouse, trackball or track pad.
  • Use a docking station for ease of use and/or use an external monitor that can be adjust to the correct height: the top of the screen is at eyebrow level.
Practice micro- and large movement breaks.
  • Move your head, neck and back every 15 minutes (e.g., imagine a pointer at the top of your head and draw figure "8" on the ceiling while relaxing your shoulders and continuing to breath).
  • Relax your shoulders and arms every minute (e.g., drop your hands to your laps after hitting return and then continue to type).
  • Install a reminder program, such as "Stretch Break" (see
  • Implement all of the Healthy Computing Email Tips.
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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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