Thu, Jul 12, 2012
If you can’t seem to escape your computer, it could seriously impact your health. Spending most of your day cooped up in an office typing away, (or playing Max Payne 3, whatever floats your boat), can not only leave you feeling drained when you go home at night, but it can seriously mess up your well-being.
Six hours of chair sitting a day could make you 40% more likely to die within the next 15 years.Don’t get us wrong, we love our job and we love computers even more, but we’re not too keen on the idea of it interfering with our health. Everyone knows that eating healthy and exercising is good for you. But the reality (for most of us) is that it’s hard to find the time to work out.
Another hindering factor is that the chocolate bar on our desk is much more appealing than rabbit food (also known as salad).
Luckily there are ways to get around the alluring temptations, stay healthy and even burn some calories without taking too much time away from our beloved computer screen:
Yes, we know it sounds a little weird. You might get some strange looks from people in the office, but yoga is a great way to stretch out those tense muscles you get from sitting down. It can actually help prevent scoliosis and carpal tunnel syndrome. Seven minutes is all you need.
* Did you know: People with sitting jobs have twice the rate of cardiovascular disease as people with standing jobs? Doing a bit of yoga every day could increase your cardiovascular efficiency and keep you healthy.
5 minute breaks
Set an alarm on your computer or phone every hour. Get up and take a short five minute break, go get a cup of tea, chat to a co-worker or simply just look out the window. We know it’s hard to tear yourself away from the screen, but a few minutes away will not only help you avoid backaches and eyestrain, it actually increases your concentration. The Government recommends that 5-10 minute breaks every hour should be protocol when you spend a lot of time in front of a computer (or “Visual Display Unit” as they call it. Who would’ve thought the government could use such fancy words?)
* Did you know: Walking burns 3-5 times the calories sitting does? It could prevent you from gaining a few extra love handles.
Elementary as it might seem, drinking water is crucial to your well-being. Coffee might be what gets you through the day, but don’t forget about H2O. Nutritionist Rachael Anne Hill says it’s important to stay hydrated.
“It’s very tempting to drink too much tea and coffee at work and overdo it on the beers after a hard day at the office, but doing so will not only impair your body’s ability to sleep, it will dehydrate you too.”
Our tip is to always keep a bottle of water at your desk, preferably one with a sports cap. You’ll soon find yourself sipping plenty of water (which in turn also allows for plenty of toilet breaks).
* Did you know: Drinking water could lower your risks of a heart attack and reduce the risk of colon cancer by 45%. It’s also great if you want to lose weight as it’s an appetite suppressant. Often when we think we’re hungry it’s really just our bodies screaming for a glass of H2O.
Keep a bowl of dried fruits and nuts at your desk. You might not even notice you’re doing it, but snacking on fruit and nuts will keep you from getting too peckish and stops you grabbing that alluring chocolate bar or that delicious packet of McCoy’s cheese and onion crisps.
* Did you know: Bananas are one of the best things you could eat? It slowly releases energy, making you feel full for longer and according to the New England Journal of Medicine having bananas can reduce the chance of having a stroke by 40%.
We know it’s a bit of a longshot, but have you ever thought about taking a little walk on your lunch break? Take a friend or colleague with you and walk around the block or to the park if there’s one nearby. 15 minutes are enough to send endorphins through your body and you’ll have more energy to spend once you get back. Rachael Anne Hill says: “Getting active may be the last thing you feel like doing when you’re tired and rung out at work but the phrase ‘energy makes energy’ really is true. Research shows that exercising during your lunch hour can really help to improve your productivity throughout the rest of the day.”
* Did you know: Some offices have introduced treadmill desks? Walking at slow speed, they work away on their computer whilst getting exercise at the same time.
If you, despite the simpleness of these steps towards a healthier life, choose to completely ignore them, we do hope you stick with this last point. It doesn’t require much effort and you won’t burn any unnecessary calories:
SIT CORRECTLY AT YOUR DESK!
Make sure your chair is adjusted so your lower back is supported. It makes all the difference and will save you a trip to the physiotherapist. Have your screen at eye level and make sure your feet are flat on the floor. If you are too short for all these steps to work appropriately, get a footrest.
Another important point: Sit up straight! When you notice you start to slouch, sit up straight again. It not only helps your posture, but keeps you more alert. We know it’s hard to avoid crossing your legs, and/or slouching down in your chair when it gets to the end of the day and you’re tired, but try your best not to.
If you want more tips on how to sit well, there’s a few bits of useful information from the NHS.
Written by Lis Evenstad
Lis is a journalist and writer who spends most of her day on the internet. As a self proclaimed coffee addict/expert she loves writing about anything related to her caffeine induced bliss and spends most of her time consuming large amounts of it. Lis also enjoys watching endless amounts of television and thinks she knows a lot about everything,