College students can improve the ways they sit by sitting in a more relaxed position and keeping their technology at a higher height, which can help get rid of future health problems, Dr. Jennifer Garza, UConn Health’s ergonomist, said.
The better way to sit is to try and keep a neutral position, Dr. Garza said.
“Keep [your] feet flat on the floor, keep legs parallel on the floor, tilt chair back 10 degrees from the vertical keep shoulder relaxed at sides, wrists straight, elbows about parallel to the floor,” Dr. Garza said.
The main problems students face are sitting in small lecture halls and being on their phones and laptops, Dr. Garza said. Lecture halls are not ideal for sitting properly, because students can not adjust the seats to their liking.
“You can’t adjust the height; you are stuck. In an office setting, it’s all about [adjustability], the height of keyboard and mouse can be adjusted for neutral posture,” Dr. Garza said. “[A] Lecture hall is the opposite. You can’t adjust anything. The only thing you can control is perhaps bringing an external keyboard. It’s temporary; [students are] only there for an hour.”
Students can improve how they sit with their technology by having their phone or laptop at a higher level to avoid constantly bending the neck and shoulders, according to the International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics. By having it at a higher height, it eliminates low gaze angles and the strain on the head and neck.
The biggest risk for sitting incorrectly over a long period of time is that the likeliness for musculoskeletal disorders can rise, Dr. Garza said.
There are four risk factors that affect how you sit, Dr. Garza said. This includes posture (the way one holds their body), sitting frequency, the force on muscles and the duration of uninterrupted force.
“The frequency [includes] looking at how [frequently] you are you using your computer,” Dr. Garza said. “For college students, it is a lot.”
Even if one is active and exercises a lot, it is still not healthy to be sitting for a prolonged time, Dr. Garza said.
“Sitting for long periods of time is not good for anyone,” Dr. Garza said. “ Even if you are a physical person, [say you go] running for an hour, you are still at risk because you spend [the same amount of] time watching TV and in class.”
Rachel Philipson is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.