Most of us are used to the stress that comes with our hectic work schedules. You get accustomed to the long hours, tight deadlines and endless meetings. You adapt to the lifestyle and accept that these are the normal hazards of working in a modern office. However, increasing evidence shows that this lifestyle is dangerous for you and could be ruining your health.
Those aches and pains you experience on an almost daily basis can often be traced back to your desk job and your working habits. The excessive hours you spend seated in the office might actually be doing you in. According to research, the modern office is full of hidden dangers from the harmless-looking photocopier to your keyboard. Combined with the everyday stress involved in navigating the modern work environment, all of this can have negative and harmful effects on your mental and physical wellbeing.
While most of us know that sitting at a desk the whole day poses a risk to our health, few know just how serious it is. You might be surprised to learn that doctors have discovered that sitting for prolonged periods is harmful to anyone, regardless of whether they exercise regularly or not. This alone should give you reason to change your work routine. However, if you are still unconvinced of the hidden dangers of spending long hours seated at your desk, read on for more motivation.
Common things to be aware of and the health complications they can cause are outlined below:
- Sitting for extended hours
If you regularly sit down for long periods, you are likely to develop lower back pain, sluggish metabolism and poor core strength, making your abdominal muscles weak. Slouching at your desk can also lead to constant neck and shoulder pain. These pains are caused by poor sitting posture that throws your spine out of alignment, leading to increased straining of the back muscles and ligaments.
To correct this, you should learn how to sit up straight, and a good posture-correcting chair can help with that. Alternatively, you can get a lumbar pillow that will give your back additional support as you sit down. A neck or back brace can also come in handy in such situations. The braces pull back your muscles, preventing slumping and correcting your posture.
Doctors also recommend that you avoid sitting for more than 45 minutes at a time. Instead, take regular breaks from your desk to stretch your muscles by doing some light exercises. Walking around the office should be enough.
- Extensive or prolonged use of keyboards
Typing away furiously at your keyboard writing out reports and replying to emails for a major part of your day is a well-known cause of repetitive strain injury (RSI) and carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). These two conditions occur because of performing the same motions over and over again as you type.
Typing motions typically cause the tendons present in your wrist to continuously glide over each other, causing friction and microtrauma. This in turn can lead to tendon inflammation and, if not addressed, can eventually cause permanent nerve damage and constant excruciating pain in the wrists extending to the rest of the arm.
You can wear compression gloves to relieve hand pain and alleviate pressure on your wrists as you type. Additionally, you can get wrist rests to give you additional support.
- Endlessly staring at a computer screen
Staring at your computer screen while you work is inevitable. However, this habit can bring up eye problems. Most of the time, we fail to blink our eyes as often as we should when looking at our screens. This often results in dry eyes, fatigue and even headaches and migraines.
To combat this, take regular breaks every 20 minutes or so to look at something in the distance – for example, outside the window or across the room. Also remember to keep blinking your eyes to keep them moist.
Sometimes the glare of the computer screen might be to blame. If this is the case, adjust your screen resolution to increase your comfort or purchase an anti-glare shield to protect your eyes.
- Sick building syndrome
It turns out that being cooped indoors in the office all day can actually make you unwell. Unfiltered air recirculating in your office building can contain bacteria, chemicals, mold or other gases that can seriously mess with your health. The lack of adequate ventilation coupled with toner particles and ozone from photocopiers and printers can eventually lead to chronic chest pain and other lung ailments.
While you cannot avoid working at the office altogether, you can certainly overhaul your working habits. For instance, you can take breaks at regular intervals to move your body. Also incorporate light exercises and more rest into your routine. These simple changes can help you get healthier and feel more comfortable at work.