All of us - young and old - far and near – at home or at work- use more and more electronic equipment than before or only just a few years ago. The “contact” for our devices changed a little bit from necessary contact-keeping tools to personal. The web moved into our home, and to our bedroom. That means before sleeping or first thing in the morning, we check our mails. But this can cause family conflicts, and negative health effects too; so negative that some of them even have their own name…
Everyone who works with a computer or notebook at work knows that there's a paragraph in their employee contract about compulsively taking a break after a limited time in front of the screen. This is not only because of our eyes but because of constantly sitting in the same position. Some of them use this time to check Facebook or personal mails but this won’t help, as it’s the same position and the same screen. So: I’m trying to list the symptoms that using too much electronic devices may cause, to help you recognize if anyone in your environment complains on them and to make it easier to change your attitude if needed.
First and one of the biggest problems:
Sitting, sitting and sitting. All day, in work, then in front of the television at home.
I think most of us must admit that we are not sitting in the right way. Because there's a right way of sitting.
If you only do one thing after reading this article, this should be the one: set the position of your workplace and body. Sitiing on a gymnastic ball is one of the good solutions to let your muscles move while working, but the final solution is not this.
- Hips, elbows, and knees should be at open angles (slightly more than 90 degrees).
- Recline slightly to ease lower back pressure.
- Thighs parallel to floor.
- Ensure feet are flat on floor (or use footrest).
- Sit about one arms-length from the monitor.
- Position center of screen at eye level – tilt the monitor upwards slightly.
- Keep wrists in neutral position, not bent up or down.
- Only use wrist rests while resting, not when typing.
- Keep alphabetical section of keyboard centred to you.
It’s not just sitting in the same wrong way but sitting that way for a very long time. Sitting in a wrong way can cause neck and back pain, muscle pain, and mineralization on joints that hurts after standing up or doing other movements.
→ Consequences: Obesity, muscle atrophy, pains
When you are sitting, your muscles use third of the energy that's needed for moving so the first consequence of too much sitting leads to obesity. It’s a clean process as the body need less energy because we don’t do exercises or trainings, yet eat the same amount. The second, that is a plus consequence of obesity, is a metabolic syndrome — many conditions include increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol levels. All these can increase the risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer. And when we think of sitting, it doesn’t come into our mind that while we are driving home or eating dinner at home, we are also sitting. I won’t recommend to eat the family dinner standing, it’s not healthy, but we need to monitor our physical condition and demand for healthy body. Going into the gym every day yet chosing devices that can be used with limited activity (sitting on a bicycle) won’t really decrease the risk we earn daily sitting next to our work desk.
After days, you may notice that it’s harder to climb the stairs. It’s not a mistake, it’s true. As you don’t use your muscles, they start to atrophy. Not seriously, but the process is the same when somebody has to lay every day in bed, but just slower.
So you see, the aim of taking breaks is to let the muscles move and let the body get a healthy position.
The solution seems to be less sitting and more moving DURING the day. You might start by simply standing rather than sitting whenever you have the chance. A phone call or a quick discussion with colleagues is a good opportunity. If you have to go out for lunch, choose a standing table instead of a sitting place. Try a standing desk for work. It’s an evident opportunity to move if you walk to your office instead of driving or going by bicycle.
Only this single change will lead to burn more calories, lose weight, and increase energy.
Plus consequence of constantly writing sms or watching your smartphone: "Text-neck"
This is the new sympom caused by the absolutely not natural position of head and neck while chatting and texting for long and many times per day. Unfortunately, it's not just our neck and head that we position wrong, it's true for our shoulders and chest too. This position can cause headache, besides neck pain.
Stronger back muscles may help this a bit but the real cure for this is to limit the time you spend with your phone or tablet.
Next time, I will discuss the eye problems caused by screens.