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How to Spend Hours at the Computer and Still Stay Healthy

How to Spend Hours at the Computer and Still Stay Healthy

Modern jobs can seem like dream jobs when you are first getting into them. When you compare a desk job to a job that demands physical exertion, it may seem that the health aspects of work go in favour of the people who don’t exert themselves physically on a daily basis. There are far fewer opportunities to get injured, and there is no physical strain on the body.

What most people who are new to these kinds of working conditions don’t realize is that there are numerous negative effects that prolonged sitting in front of a PC can have on a person’s health. The ailments of modern IT professionals and other desk workers range from physical problems to mental issues that these kinds of working conditions cause.

It’s easy to completely disregard these things at first, since it takes some time for the symptoms to develop, but if you don’t take action to prevent them, they can have a very serious impact on your health and your life in general.

Take breaks from sitting down

Your biggest enemies are the prolonged sitting sessions, which can have an impact on various health aspects. As your posture slowly deteriorates (if it wasn’t already bad before you even got the job), your joints start aching, you lose your flexibility, and you start to have less and less energy. These are just some of the things that can be caused by prolonged sitting, and this is how you can fight it.

Every time you take a break, whether you are taking a real break, talking to a colleague or just planning your next course of action, make sure you stand up, walk around, stretch out and give your body the time to recuperate.

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Exercise is a must

    Regardless of the fact that you strive to take regular breaks from sitting down at the office, you still need to have some physical activity in your free time. You can even do some exercises at the office. A lot of people who work in IT have hobbies and pastimes that are related to using tech. Whether it’s gaming, social media (via phones or PCs), or watching TV, these activities all include sitting down or lying down.

    This is why taking up some physical activity is a must. Start running or riding a bicycle. Jump on that treadmill or get a gym membership. Of course, you need to persevere at whatever you choose to go for so you can actually reap the benefits.

    Keep your health in mind at all times; this will allow you to boost your motivation. After a while you’ll realize that this isn’t something that you have to do, it’s something that you want to do.

    Carpal tunnel syndrome is a real issue

    Due to the fact that your mouse hand is constantly in the same position and making the same movements over and over again while you work, it is quite probable that you will develop carpal tunnel syndrome. You might experience problems with tingling sensations in your thumb, index and middle fingers, which are caused by the constant pressure on the median nerve.

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    You need to catch this on time and take steps to resolve it. There are remedies that can help you get this under control without too much trouble.

    You are what you eat

      Finding a good diet that fits your lifestyle can be tricky, but if you let yourself go and rely on the quickest and easiest meals, which usually ends up being fast food and other unhealthy options, you can get yourself in a whole lot of trouble.

      In a lot of cases, people tend to go overboard with bad carbs, fats and sugar intake, which puts a big strain on your digestive system and causes massive weight gain. Obesity can become a real issue, really fast. Furthermore, your cholesterol and blood pressure can go through the roof, which can lead to heart problems and other serious issues.

      Make sure that your diet is well balanced and that it fits in with the training regimen you opt for. Old habits may die hard, but you need to make the necessary changes and do the things that are good for you.

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      Get enough sleep, for God’s sake

      All of this will be for naught if you don’t allow your body and mind to get the rest they need to keep working properly. Even if you do everything else right, if you allow your hectic schedule to destroy your sleeping habits, you will not be able to make your health gains last. Not getting enough sleep means that you won’t have enough energy, that you will be easily irritated, and that you will lack motivation to get through your day.

      In some cases, people have legitimate sleep disorders that prevent them from organizing their lives properly. In other cases, sleep troubles are nobody else’s fault but our own. Make sure you are not stepping on your own toes with the decisions you make before you actually decide you have a sleeping disorder.

      There are concrete steps you can take to get your sleep pattern in order, and if you still can’t sleep after this adaptation period, consult your physician.

      You need to take the hazards of your modern desk job seriously or they can escalate into problems that are not easy to resolve. If you manage to get these health issues under control, you will improve the overall quality of your life and be happier and more active in your free time.

      Furthermore, you will be able to handle stress more efficiently and avoid allowing it to hit you where it hurts. The progress of your career and your decision-making abilities are also impacted by the state your body and mind are in.

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      Keep in mind that this is a lot to do and that the adaptation period may be difficult. Prepare for this mentally and don’t expect things to happen over night. The benefits are clear and they should be enough to motivate you in the beginning.

      If you think that you may waver in your decision, partner up with a friend, colleague or somebody else so you can keep each other in line when the motivation module in your brain fails to start up. Good luck!

      Featured photo credit: https://www.pexels.com/photo/box-business-celebrate-celebration-296878/ via pexels.com

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      Aleksandar Ilic

      Blogger, Social Media Butterfly, Guitarist

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      Last Updated on June 15, 2018

      What Really Works: How to Relieve Lower Back Pain Effectively

      What Really Works: How to Relieve Lower Back Pain Effectively

      Eight out of ten adults experience lower back pain once in their lifetime. I am one of those people and I’m definitely not looking forward to my participation award. I know how it feels like to step out of bed and barely being able to put on your socks. Having lower back pain sucks. But 9 out of 10 patients that suffer from lower back pain don’t even know the primary cause of it.

      Video Summary

      Back Pain? Blame Our Evolution

      Once upon a time in our fairly recent past, our ancestors felt the urgency to stand up and leave our quadruped neighbors behind. Habitual bipedalism, fancy word for regularly walking on two legs, came with a lot of advantages. With two rear limbs instead of four, we were able to more efficiently use our hands and create tools with them.

      Sadly, life on two legs also brought along its disadvantages. Our spine had four supporting pillars previously, but now it only got two. The back is therefore naturally one of the weak links of our human anatomy. Our spine needs constant support from its supporting muscles to minimize the load on the spine. With no muscle support (tested on dead bodies) the back can only bear loads up to 5 pounds without collapsing [reference Panjabi 1989]. With well-developed torso muscles, the spine can take loads up to 2000 pounds. That’s a 400-fold increase.

      Most people that come to me with a history of a herniated disc (that’s when the discs between the vertebral bodies are fully collapsed, really severe incident), tell me the ‘story of the pencil’. The injury with the following severe pain usually gets triggered by picking up a small, everyday object. Such as a pencil. Not as you may think by trying to lift 100 pounds – no, but by a simple thing – such as a pencil.

      This tells us that damage in your back adds up over time, it’s a so called cumulative trauma disorder. Meaning back pain is a result of your daily habits.

      Sitting Is the New Smoking

      Whenever I sit for too long, my back hurts. In fact, 54% of Americans who experience lower back pain spend the majority of their workday sitting. But isn’t sitting something that should reduce the stress of your back? No, just the opposite.

      The joints between the bones of the spine are not directly linked to the blood supply. These joints instead get nourished through a process called diffusion. Diffusion works because molecules (such as oxygen, important for cells) are constantly moving and try to get as much space for themselves as they can. A key element for diffusion therefore is a pressure difference. In the image below the left room contains more moving molecules than the right, that’s why the molecules from the left are moving to the right. This way nutrition gets transformed into the joints, whereas toxins are transported out of the joints.

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      Sitting puts a lot of pressure on your spinal chord. The diffusion process therefore can’t function as efficiently. Nutrition and toxins can’t be properly transported, the joints get damaged.

        Sit Properly

        If sitting can play such a huge part in the creation of your lower back pain, how do you sit properly then?

        Is it better to sit with a straight back or should you rather lay back in your chair? Can I cross my legs when I’m sitting or should I have a symmetrical position with my feet? These are questions that I hear on a daily basis. The answer might shock you – according to recent science – all of them are right. The best sitting position is an ever-changing one. An ever-changing position minimizes the pressure on certain points of your spine and spreads it on the whole part.

          Credit: StayWow

          Stand Up More

          Even better than a sitting position is a stand up position. Standing dramatically reduces the pressure on your spine. If you’re forced to work on a desk the whole day though, you have two options.

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          Take breaks every hour of about 2-3 minutes.

          Set an alarm on your phone that goes off every hour! In that time you stand up and reach to the ceiling, on your toe tips with fully extended arms. You’re inhaling during the whole process. You do this activity for 20 seconds. Afterwards you’re walking through the office for the next 2 minutes. You might grab a healthy snack or some water in that time. The exercise relieves the pressure on your spine, while the walking makes sure that the joints on your spine are properly used.

          Or get a standing desk.

          One of the best companies on the market for Standing Desks, according to my research, is Autonomous. Autonomous offers a rather cheap Standing Desk, with the ability to change the height. Which means you can start the day standing and switch to sitting if you’re tired.

          Exercise for Lower Back Pain

          Sitting is an immobile position. Your joints are made for movement and therefore need movement to function properly. If humans are moving, all moving parts: e.g. the joints, bones and muscles get strengthened. If you’re in a rested position for too long, your tissues start to deteriorate. You have to get the right amount of activity in.

          But not too much activity. There’s a chance that going to the gym may even increase your risk of lower back pain. I know plenty of friends with chiseled bodies that suffer from pain in the spine regularly. Huge muscles do not prevent you from back pain. In your training you should focus on building up the muscles that are stabilizing your back and relieve pressure. Squats with 400 pounds don’t do the trick.

          The more weight you carry around, the more weight your spinal chord has to bear on a regular basis. That’s one of the reasons why huge, muscular guys can suffer from back pain too. One of the most important goals of your exercise regimen should therefore be weight loss.

          Here are some important tips for you to consider when starting an exercise regimen:

          Make sure you implement cardiovascular training in your workout routine.

          This will not only help you lose weight, it will also make sure that your arteries, which flow to the tissue next to your spinal discs, are free of placque and can therefore transport nutrients properly.

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          Important: If you have rather strong back pain, maybe even an herniated disc, don’t start running on a threadmill. Running is an high-impact exercise. Which means there are continuous, reocurring high pressure points on your spine. Your endurance training should therefore either be fast-paced walking or a training on the elliptical trainer for the beginning, because both have little to no stressful impact on your backbone.

          Focus on developing your whole core if you want to minimize your pain.

          There are some people that do hundreds of sit ups a day. While sit ups are a good exercise for your abdomen, it also puts pressure on your spine due to the bending movement. A sixpack workout routine is one-sided. Your abs may become overdeveloped in comparison to your back muscles. You’ve created an imbalance. A great way to train your abdominal muscles and back muscles simultaneously, is holding the plank position.

          Stretch only if you have tight muscles.

          I remember stretching every morning after I woke up. I took 10 minutes out of my day to just work on my flexibility and prevent injuries. Little did I know that I was actually promoting an injury, by doing so.

          Contrary to common belief, stretching is only partially beneficial to treating lower back pain. Stretching makes sense if tight muscles (such as the hamstrings) are forcing you to constantly bend your back. Stretching to treat pain doesn’t make sense if you’re already on a good level of flexibility. Hyper-mobility may even enforce back pain.

          If you found out that you had tight muscles that you need to stretch, try to stretch them at least three times a week. Don’t stretch your muscles right after you wake up in the morning. This is because your spinal discs soak themselves up in fluid over the nighttime. Every bending and excessive loads on your spine is much worse in that soaked-up state. Postpone your stretching regime to two-to three hours after you’ve woken up.

          Where to Start

          The key to improving your habits is awareness. Try to get aware of your back while you’re sitting down, laying down or lifting an object next time. This awareness of your body is called proprioception. For example, you have to be aware whether your back is bended or straight in this very second. Trust me, it is harder than you might think. You may need to ask a friend for the first few tries. But the change that this awareness can make in your back pain is absolutely fascinating. This consciousness of your body is one of the most important things in your recovery or prevention.

          Here are a few behavioural tactics that you need to be considering:

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          If you’re leaning forward more than 30 degrees with your upper body, support your spine with your arms.

          Ever tried to show a colleague of yours a complex issue and found yourself awkwardly leaning forward on their desk, pointing with your fingers to his paper? If that ever happens again, make sure you’re using the not-pointing arm to support yourself on the desk.

          Keep a straight back.

          Be it while exercising, stretching or standing. If you’re bending your back you’re putting stress on small areas of your spinal chord. A straight back redistributes the force to a bigger area. You’re minimizing the pressure. Remember this whenever you’re at the gym and reracking your weights, focus on having a neutral spine.

          Put symmetrical loads on your spine.

          I used to play the trumpet when I was a child. The instrument is pretty heavy. The trumpet gets transported in a big, metallic suitcase – with no wheels. Being the nature of suitcases, you only carry it with one arm, on one side of your body. This forced me to constantly lean on the other side with my upper body, while transporting the instrument from A to B. Not really the healthiest activity for your spine as you can imagine.

          If you have to carry heavy objects, carry them with both arms. Put the object in the middle of your body and keep it as close to your mass of gravity as you can. If this is not possible, try to carry the same amount on the left side than you do on the right side. This puts the stress vertically on a fully extended spine. The load is much better bearable for your spine.

          Stay Away From the Back Pain League

          Our world is getting more sedentary. We will continue to develop faster transportation, more comfortable houses and easier lives. While our technological progress definitely has its amazing benefits, it sadly has its downsides too. The danger for back pain will continue to rise on our ever-increasing motionless planet. It’s time to raise awareness.

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