We feel independent and satisfied with our jobs, and hope to grow professionally while gaining more skills. But these 9-hour desk jobs can also be demanding for our health. As a matter of fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has proved that work-related musculoskeletal problems ranging from muscle strains to carpal tunnel syndrome have made up 32% of injury and illness cases. Researches have also proven that long hours of desk work with an inactive lifestyle brings you at health risks such as hypertension, obesity, paunches, reduced blood circulation, hormonal imbalances, raised cholesterol, diabetes, and weak immunity. However, we need not be scared with this data and studies, rather be careful with our desk jockey routine. With some smart tips and ideas, we can combat desk jobs’ related health issues.
Signs and Symptoms of Sitting Job Health Risks
Sitting for stretched hours in front of computer on daily basis makes you vulnerable to overused injuries and physical strain. Signs and symptoms that signify health issue because of long sitting periods as per the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons include:
- A tingling feeling in the fingers
- Sore wrists
- Lower back pain
- Eye strain including redness, dryness and/or soreness, blurry vision, and headache
- Soreness in the neck, shoulders, arms, back, thighs, and lower legs (postural fatigue).
- Steady pain or discomfort in the muscles and tendons (called repetitive strain injury).
How to Reduce the Risks
We can’t change our job schedule but we can work on our routine to keep health hazards at bay resulting from long sitting hours.
1) Perform Yoga: Performing yoga or meditation, and massages reduce anxiety and high stress levels that come from your job.
2) Regular stroll: Take a five-minute stroll every sitting hour. This improves blood circulation in the body. After lunch and breaks, do take a walk outside.
3) Body stretching: Every hour, stretch your legs and arms. Stretch the soft tissues around the spine regularly to reduce stress around the neck and lower back. At home, every evening/morning stretch hip flexors for five minutes per side.
4) Sit in correct posture: Sit upright without crouching with your hips and knees at 90-degree angle. Keep your feet on the floor or foot rest. Don’t lean forward toward your computer and keep your head directly over your shoulders.
5) Make your seating comfortable: Place your computer/laptop at an arm’s length from your eyes and the monitor top should be at your forehead level. This will help you avoid having to look up or down. Your mouse and keyboard should be placed in a way that your elbows at your side and bent at 90 degrees.
6) Go for an ergonomic workstation: Use ergonomically designed chairs to prevent extra load on spine and rounded shoulders that cause neck stress, pain, and headaches.
Special Care Tips to Combat Health Risks of Desk Jobs
Apart from the above tips to reduce health risks, you should take care to follow some special practices that aid in maintaining your health. Some of the best ones are –
- Neck exercise: Sit straight and drop head slowly to one side, taking ear towards the shoulder. Make sure that you feel the stretch. Perform this daily for five minutes.
- Say no to elevators: Take stairs instead of the elevator when possible.
- Sleep well: Follow a good sleeping routine of 6-8 hours daily. It helps optimal functioning while you work.
- Eat healthy: Your diet should be healthy and nutritious that should comprise of proteins, natural fats, and complex carbohydrates as well as green leafy vegetables and fibrous fruits. Avoid sugar laden foods that lead to weight gain and obesity, high cholesterol, diabetes, and other metabolic disorders. Deep fried foods and oil-loaded foods rich should be completely avoided as they cause serious implications on the cardiovascular system.
- Lots of water: Drink enough water all through the day and maintain ideal hydration. Usually sitting in air-conditioned offices, we don’t feel thirsty that leads to inadequate fluid intake. It results in cramps, fatigue, and loss of concentration. We also drink coffee or tea during work hours, make sure to consume such drinks in moderation as excessive intake might cause palpitations and increased anxiety.
- Go anti-glare with screen: Reduce the impact of bright lights on your eyes by using anti-glare screens or retina displays, and anti-glare glasses. Use eye-drops if required to prevent drying of the eyes because of constant screen exposure. Cover your eyes and gently massage every hour to relax them.
Our bodies are designed to be up and moving when we are working and playing, and to be seated only when resting. Sitting at desks for most of the day and commuting in cabs, cars, buses etc. makes our lifestyle inactive, and affect our bodies in several ways. At the earliest signs of aches, consult a physician or physiotherapist immediately. Don’t ignore of postural problems occur. These are non-communicable diseases (NCD) that pose an all-time high and constant health challenges. Thus, follow the practices and precautions mentioned above, you can significantly reduce the health risks rising from today’s lifestyle. Continue following your passion, stay healthy!
If you have any ideas to add, please share in the comments below.