I am one of those lucky people who works remotely from home. I run my own small business as a freelance journalist, content creator and blogger, and marketing and PR specialist. While I love what I do, especially as it allows me to work from home, I am on the computer a lot – upwards of eight hours a day – and I do worry about my health as a result of this.
I’ve been doing some digging and I’ve found out what the most ‘dangerous’ parts of computer work are when it comes to our health, and how we can mitigate these issues and keep ourselves as healthy as possible. Bearing that in mind, below is a guide to the most common computer-related health problems and how you can reduce the risk of developing them.
Did you know that back, neck and shoulder pain, as well as headaches, are all commonly linked to spending excessive amounts of time on the computer each day? These problems are not caused by computers themselves, but being sat at a desk all day. You see, sitting at a desk and slumping over it can have an impact on your posture, which in return can damage the muscles, bones, tendons, and ligaments, causing stiffness and pain.
To avoid these injuries and the associated pain and stiffness, it is important to ensure that your workstation is setup properly. Ideally, you want to work at an adjustable desk that has been made for computer use, have your computer at eye level or lower, have your keyboard at a height that means your elbows can rest comfortably at your sides, use an ergonomic chair, rest your feet flat on the floor, and use an ergonomic keyboard that allows your hands and wrists to rest in a more natural position.
Focusing your eyes on the same thing – AKA a computer screen – for a long period of time can cause eye fatigue. Our eyes are made to look at things six metres away or more, which is why computer screens can cause eye strain, as close up work puts extra strain on eye muscles. Digital eye strain can cause blurriness, inability to focus, and headaches. While eye strain does tend to be temporary, over a long period of time, it can make you more prone to other conditions. Blue light that computer monitors give off contributes to eye strain – blue light is the highest visible wavelength of light – and can lead to serious problems like macular degeneration.
When it comes to dealing with eye strain, there are steps that you can take to reduce the risk. Simply by tilting your computer screen to avoid glare or reflections can help, as can making sure that the screen is as far away from your face as possible, having the screen at eye level or lower, reducing your screen’s brightness and contrast, installing a blue light filter that offers computer screen cover for eyes, and implementing the 20-20-20 rule – every 20 minutes look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
Then there is the fact that people who sit at a desk on a computer all day are twice as likely to be overweight as people who do jobs where they are more active. The problem is that if you are sat at a desk all day, you aren’t burning as many calories as you would do if you were up and about walking around, which is what makes you more prone to gaining excess weight.
The good news is that by leading an active life outside of work and following a balanced diet plan, you can ensure that your weight remains healthy. What a lot of health-conscious office workers have begun to do is work at standing desks – this means standing at a desk all day and not using a chair, which burns 50 extra calories an hour to when you sit down.
I love my job and would never want to have to give it up, which is why when it comes to my health, I make an extra effort to take care of myself.