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Healthy Computing Tip # 445: Laptopitis

"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.

How to 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 wrists 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 with an external keyboard, 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 break reminder program.


The Institute for Holistic Healing Studies and Human Resources sponsor the distribution of Healthy Computing Email Tips. Copyright 2009 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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