Research has proven that long hours of desk work increase health hazards like obesity, hypertension, diabetes, raised cholesterol and osteoarthritis. Here are some proven tips on how to get rid of your workplace health problems.
Research has proven that long hours of desk work increase health hazards like obesity, hypertension, diabetes, raised cholesterol and osteoarthritis. The continuous sitting hours required with a desk job poses a constant threat of chronic back, neck and arm pain in addition to lethal conditions of congestive heart failure and stroke.
In the modern world, non-communicable diseases (NCD) are at an all-time high, posing a constant challenge to the health and well-being of society. Although healthy lifestyle choices such as eating a balanced diet, drinking a moderate amount of alcohol, not smoking and maintaining optimal body weight have been effective in the prevention and treatment of the NCD’s, there has been no significant attention given to an active lifestyle for disease prevention.
7 things you should do at your workplace to counter negative health issues arising from a desk-job of long hours:
#1 – Use a standing desk or improvise with a high table or counter.
#2- Sit on an exercise ball rather than a chair to correct posture, strengthen core muscles, improve pelvic stability and increase body awareness.
#3- Change your position frequently such as standing while using the phone or walking laps within the office. Ideally, a small break from sitting is recommended every 45 minutes to an hour.
#4- Keep good sitting posture by maintaining a straight and neutral spine, shoulders retracted, and the buttocks positioned deep in the chair.
#5- Simple exercises like stretching, walking or marching on the spot can be performed during breaks.
#6- Correct placement of the computer screen and mouse with respect to the height of the office worker prevents slouching or reaching forward constantly in order to work on your computer.
#7- Place feet on the floor or on a small stool to ensure that your legs are supported with the hips, knees and ankle at 90 degrees.
What to do when your office AC is much colder than the outside temperature:
#1- To manage the change from the cooler environment inside to a hot climate outside, maintain the air conditioning temperature at 22-24 degrees at your workplace.
#2- Frequent breaks to move around keeps blood circulating in the limbs, plus drinking enough water, ensures the body adapts better to the sudden increase in outside temperature.
11 lifestyle changes you should make to counter the negative effects of long hours of sitting:
#1- Engage in some form of low to medium intensity physical activity to help restore normal mobility. For every eight hours of sitting, one hour of low-intensity cardiovascular training is recommended.
#2- Look for active options in the workplace that can promote your health such as taking the stairs rather than using the elevator to boost muscular endurance.
#3- Play recreational sports with your peers or colleagues to maintain general fitness and assist in the reduction of stress levels due to work pressure.
#4- Maintain good sleeping habits for optimal functioning at your workplace by sleeping for 6 to 8 hours every night.
#5- Eat a healthy and nutritious diet including proteins, natural fats and complex carbohydrates to maintain general good health. The proteins and natural fats, along with green leafy vegetables and fibrous fruits, should form the bulk of your daily food intake.
#6- Yoga, meditation, mindfulness and massage are useful techniques to reduce anxiety and high-stress levels that come from your job.
#7-Sugar laden foods create a sudden spike in insulin levels followed by a reduction in energy levels that cause lethargy and low energy in the workplace. Long term habitual use of high sugar foods can lead to weight gain and obesity, high cholesterol, diabetes plus other metabolic disorders.
#8- Drink enough water throughout the day to maintain optimal hydration levels. Commonly, people engaged in desk jobs inside air-conditioned offices do not feel thirsty which results in inadequate fluid intake leading to a lack of concentration, muscle cramps and fatigue.
#9- Deep fried foods and foods rich in oil should be completely avoided due to the serious implications on the cardiovascular system. Research has shown that individuals engaging in a desk job, combined with the practice of consuming fried foods, are twice as likely to develop cardiac disorders such as congestive heart failure compared to people with more active jobs.
#10- Moderate consumption of coffee is recommended as excessive caffeine may lead to increased anxiety and palpitations.
#11- Complete cessation of tobacco in any form, and moderate alcohol intake is also strongly advocated.
2 long term special care tips to protect your eyes and your spine from extended desk jobs:
#1- Use anti-glare screens or retina displays which reduce the impact of bright lights into the eyes, while protective glasses (anti-glare glasses) combined with regular hydration through water and eye drops can prevent drying of the eyes resulting from constant exposure to the screen. Frequent and regular breaks also reduce stress on the eyes.
#2- Use ergonomically designed chairs and correct seating postures to prevent spinal loading and rounded shoulders which place stress on the neck causing pain and headaches. Regular stretching of the soft tissues around the spine reduces stress development around the neck and low back.
Seek advice from your physiotherapist at an early stage if there are any aches and pains.
– Authored by Shrikant Iyengar, Director of Education and Academy Member, ProHealth Asia Physiotherapy & Rehab Centre
(All views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent MentorYes’s viewpoint or recommendations. Readers are advised to consider and evaluate the views presented here before implementing them in their preparation or otherwise.)