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Is Work Hurting Your Body?

If you work in an office setting, you know how hard it can be to stay healthy. For one, you’re sitting down at your desk for the majority of the day. Usually when you are sitting down at your desk you are staring at a computer screen and typing away at the keyboard. Plus, your wrist has become so accustomed to straining in the same position as it hovers over your mouse that you don’t even realize anymore how much damage you could be doing. Not to mention our eyes. When you stare at a computer screen all day, your eyes take the brunt of the it. All of these things can do great harm to our bodies overtime. However, there are a bunch of things we can do to make sure we are staying healthy at work.

For one, taking breaks is most important. It’s not healthy, for your body or your mind, to sit down in the same position all day. Remember when Spark News discussed the importance of taking a break at work last week? Well, it’s not surprising that taking a break can really benefit your body. You need to stretch and walk around to get your blood flowing again at least every 20 minutes. Plus, if we eat and then continue to sit at our desk, our blood sugar levels and insulin levels increase much more than if we were just a bit active after we ate. That means, getting up to walk around and stretching our limbs.

Going back to the sitting, though, it can be really bad for our backs. First off, let’s face it: most of us do not have great posture. We slouch when we sit or we sit hunched over a desk and keyboard. According to experts, many things we do at work can be very bad for our back. For example, when we slouch in a chair, prolong certain activity, have repetitive motions and experience fatigue we are contributing greatly to our back issues. Sitting for too long in one position, especially if that position is not a great one, is perhaps the worst.

As if that wasn’t enough, sitting for prolonged periods of time can strain our neck and our legs as well. One of the first things you can do to try and combat this is to check your posture. When you are sitting in your office in front of your computer, take a second to notice how you are sitting. Are you slouched? Are you hunched over? Where are your feet? All of these things contribute greatly to how you and your body feel at the end of the day. If you are sitting slouched over, make a conscious effort from now on to sit up straight. Keep your spine straight and roll your shoulders back. Slouching or sitting hunched over can strain your neck and your back. When you sit up straight it may feel awkward at first, but after a while it will prove to be much more comfortable. When you sit up straight, you open up your chest more and you can bring more oxygen into your lungs. You take the strain off of certain areas of your back and distribute the weight all over.

Having great posture is a good start, but what about the tools you use at work? Your keyboard and mouse can be big culprits in your end-of-the-day body pain. First off, your chair should be at the right height in relation to your desk. To sit correctly, you should position your chair so that your desk is right at your elbows. This way, your arms aren’t in an awkward position and you aren’t hunched over. Your chair shouldn’t be pressing into the back of your legs either, because this can slow the flow of blood to your feet and cause them to swell.

The chair itself is very important as well. A good chair will be positioned so that your lower back is pushed forward slightly and your knees should be level with your hips. A bad chair at work can have a ton of negative side effects, so you need to make sure that you have the correct chair. Plus, you’re sitting in this chair the majority of your day, so it should definitely be comfortable! Next comes your eyes. It’s so important to periodically take breaks during the day to save your eyes from straining the entire day. Staring at a computer screen can give you headaches, hurt the muscles in your eyes and just negatively affect your overall eye health. That is why you should make sure your computer screen is level with your eyes,. That way, you don’t have to strain to look down, to the side or up. Positioning the computer screen so it is level with your eyesight can be difficult if you have a desktop, but it’s definitely possible. You can use books and other sturdy materials to place under the monitor so that you can achieve this.

Your keyboard and mouse are the other culprits. They actually make keyboards that are ergonomically sound so that your wrists aren’t strained. However, if you just have a normal keyboard, you should make sure that your desk or work space isn’t cutting into your arm as you type. That is why you need to position your chair so that you desk is at your elbows. This way, you aren’t straining your wrists and cutting the circulation off.

Some of these things may feel uncomfortable at first, but that’s only because you and your body are so used to your bad sitting habits. It may take some time at first, but changing your posture and positioning your office materials so that they are benefiting you is key and can make your time at work much better.

SOURCE: Spine-Health
IMAGE: Courtesy of Realities and Realizations

Nicole Nicholson

Nicole is the Content Editor for Spark Hire and mainly writes for and edits the work for the Spark News blog. She graduated in 2010 with a BA in Journalism from DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois. She has a passion for writing, editing, and pretty much anything to do with content. In her free time she frequents the Chicago music scene and writes reviews on shows for her own personal blog. Connect with Nicole and Spark Hire on Facebook and Twitter