Is your workspace creating a health hazard?
I am sure this won’t come as a big surprise to anyone when I say – we sit a lot these days. But did you know the length of time we spend at our workspaces, and how we sit there, can actually create several health hazards?
In an article from The Washington Post, four experts outlined what really happens to our bodies when we sit for eight hours a day. They mentioned a variety of problems including heart disease, an overactive pancreas which can lead to diabetes, soft bones, poor circulation, muscle degeneration, and a host of orthopedic problems like neck and back strain to name a few.
So what’s the solution?
Here’s a 5-tip checklist with several quick and easy solutions to create a “healthier” workspace.
TIP #1: OVERALL SET-UP
- Is your computer monitor or laptop screen at eye level? Close enough you don’t have to lean forward or squint to see what’s on the screen?
- Can your elbows rest on the arms of a chair or are your forearms supported on a flat surface?
- Is your keyboard on a pull-out tray? If not, is it placed at an angle that keeps the elbows bent at 90 degrees and the wrists slightly flexed?
- Is your computer mouse located close to your keyboard?
- Do your feet touch the floor while sitting in the desk chair?
TIP #2: POSTURE
- Are your shoulders rounded or head leaning forward to look down at an electronic device or a computer screen?
- Is your lower back pressed firmly against the chair?
Solution: It is important to maintain the natural curves of your spine. Leaning forward with slumped shoulders can lead to headaches and neck problems. Try sitting on a physioball, switching to a standing desk, or adding a rolled towel to maintain the natural curve at your lower back while seated in a chair.
Take frequent stretch breaks to sit up tall, stretch your arms overhead, and roll your wrists clockwise/counterclockwise.
TIP #3: DRINKS/SNACKING
- Are you fueling your creative process with energy drinks or massive amounts of caffeine?
- Are your go-to snacks high in sugar?
Solution: Balance the consumption of caffeine with plenty of water. Keep a water bottle handy and infuse flavor with fresh fruits like lemon, lime, or even strawberries and sliced cucumbers for a creative twist.
Picking a snack high in sugar and a low nutritional value may give you a power surge for about 15 minutes, but then you will crash soon after. Choose snacks that nourish your mind, as well as your body, and ward off hunger.
I found six interesting brain foods to consider: blackcurrants, nuts, broccoli, sweet potato crisps, fish, and dark chocolate (my favorite).
TIP #4: ACTIVITY/FITNESS
- How often do you stand and take breaks?
- Are you unable to fit exercise into your busy work routine?
Solution: Set a timer as a reminder to stand and move around. Go for a walk, do the laundry, or even schedule an exercise sprint with a friend. There are several cool computer apps designed to help get you moving. I recently downloaded the Stand up! The Work Break Timer to my phone. This app allows me to set several time intervals, and a notification pops up saying, “Take time to stand up. We want you to live longer!”
TIP #5: DESK SPACE HYGIENE
When is the last time you cleaned your workspace surfaces? How about your keyboard and mouse? Your phone?
According to Medical Daily, there are millions of bacteria lurking around on our keyboards, computer mice, and telephones, actually more than the average toilet seat.
In a study performed by University of Arizona professor Charles Gerba, women’s workspaces might look cleaner, but they carry more germs, three to four times more than men. The reason might be “prime germ-transfer agents” such as hand lotions, purses, knickknacks, and cosmetic cases.
Solution: This one is easy to fix . . . clean the workspace regularly. Keep a bottle of hand sanitizer handy and use disinfectant wipes on keyboards, the computer mouse, and all desk surfaces.
One of my resolutions this new year was to revamp my work space, both at my day job, and my home writing space. As a daily reminder, I created an infographic to hang near my desk.
Click here for a downloadable copy: Tips for Healthier Workspace
I would love to hear from you. Do you have any quick and easy tips to share?