Office Workers: How To Stay Healthy

Over the years, a growing body of research has found that office workers are at risk for a plethora of health problems because of prolonged hours of sitting with little physical activity. In fact, aside from the occasional body aches and discomforts from continuous computer use and wearing high heels, musculoskeletal disorders, lifestyle diseases, and occupational burnout are also some of the long-term hazards you may face.

Low back pain is among the most common complaint of office workers with a prevalence rate of 23-38%. It doesn’t end there, however. According to a 2017 report released by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), more than 500,000 workers suffer from work-related depression, stress, and anxiety in the UK alone.

In addition to back, hip, and knee pain associated with prolonged sitting, other common work-related health problems you should be aware of include:

  • Stress. Even if you love what you do, at one point, you will feel stressed out. It may be because of a demanding boss, low salary, extremely competitive environment, or constant pressure to meet deadlines. Depending on how you try to cope, it may lead to excessive drinking and eating, isolation, irritability or heavy smoking.

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). It’s not the typing motion that can cause CTS but the angle of your wrist. Symptoms of CTS include a tingling sensation in your fingers, dull ache, and weakness.

  • Eye strain. Excessive computer use can result in dry and red eyes, blurry vision, and headache. Aside from the screen’s glare, poor lighting can also contribute to the development of eye strain.

  • Cardiovascular diseases and Type 2 diabetes. It has been shown that prolonged sitting is considered as a sedentary lifestyle and can lead to the development of diabetes, heart disease, and even premature death.

  • Poor mental health. Work-related stress can likely result in anxiety and depression. If you have an existing mental health issue, problems at work can aggravate your condition.

  • Obesity. Most offices today have vending machines which are filled with all things unhealthy including sweets, carbonated and energy drinks, and junk foods. Depending on your coping mechanism, you might also turn to food as a stress reliever.

Tips You Can Follow To Stay Healthy

  • Stand every 20-30 minutes. Do stretching exercises or go for a quick walk at least once every hour. This is to help reduce the stress and tension on your back, neck, and shoulders.

  • If you’re at your desk for eight hours a day (or more) and cannot find the time to work out, you should consider walking or biking on the way to your office instead of commuting. You get to exercise and save money, too.

  • Wear a wrist brace if your work involves hours of typing on a computer. This is to prevent the development of carpal tunnel syndrome. If you are already suffering from signs and symptoms of CTS, however, a wrist brace is good for use during daily activities.

  • Observe proper body mechanics when sitting while using the computer. The screen should be at least an arm’s length from your face.

  • Prepare a healthy lunch and snack. This way, you don’t have any excuses to take another trip to the canteen or the nearest vending machine. There are several easy-to-make recipes which you can whip up the night before. Make it a habit to drink enough water as well.

  • You may want to consider using a standing desk since it’s the trend for most offices nowadays so workers don’t need to sit all day long. You also get to burn around 88 calories per hour.

  • The lighting in your workspace should be brighter than the glare in your computer screen. It’s much better when there’s natural light coming through.

  • Artificial tears can help with the dryness of your eyes.

  • Your desk must be at an appropriate height. You shouldn’t be slouching or pointing your toe while working.

  • Sit up straight with your arms flat on the table to avoid shoulder pain.

  • Avoid wearing high heels if you can. If you are being required, however, you must choose footwear with a wider platform, adequate cushion, and proper fit.

  • Exercise when you have spare time outside of work. This is to prevent a sedentary lifestyle.

  • Unwind on weekends. You can watch a movie, read a book or try a new recipe. This will rejuvenate you and prepare you for another week at work.

  • Have a disinfectant nearby. The keyboard alone may harbor germs.

Office workers are at risk for several types of health problems that range from physical ailments to chronic lifestyle diseases. It’s critically important to be aware of the physical and psychological fallout which can result from a long-term desk job. Your career may be important to you but don’t ignore your health – your very success may just depend on it!

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