Here at IOD (I am OnDemand), we spend a hefty amount of time sitting in front of the computer learning about the latest and greatest updates in the world of cloud computing and turning that knowledge into valuable content. It goes without saying that, along with the rest of the world of IT, we spend most of our days sitting for prolonged periods of time in postures that threaten our health and well being. Personally, as a registered yoga instructor (RYT 200), I find it extremely difficult to sit for long periods of time and always make sure to keep my blood pumping, joints happy and stress levels low, one way or another, when working on the computer. In respect to the wealth of knowledge out there regarding the dangers associated with prolonged sitting and the specific ailments linked to countless hours on the computer, I thought I’d share a few tips on how to maintain a healthy lifestyle as a computer geek.
The Effects of Prolonged Sitting
In short, prolonged sitting is associated with increased cancer risks, Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI), and a whole slew of physical and even mental repercussions. Working in any kind of computing job can put strain on your muscles that can ultimately lead to inflammation, pain, and mobility limitations, causing stress and even depression. What’s more, studies have shown that both the cardiovascular system and metabolic function are altered by sitting for extended periods of time. While the ailments mentioned here are just the tip of the iceberg, let’s turn our focus to some positive food for thought.
What You can Do
Take breaks. Get up. Move around. Walk to a colleague’s desk instead of sending an email. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Anything you can do to get yourself out of your chair is a step in the right direction. Below are a few tips on how to incorporate breaks, increase productivity, and most of all, keep your work environment fun.
It truly is amazing what a 10 minute walk can do for your mind, body and spirit. Simply taking a break and getting your blood circulating can decrease stress hormones, resulting in a much more pleasant and productive day. Try to get on your feet at least once an hour. In case you tend to forget that time exists while you work, you can install Workrave, a free open-source program, right onto your computer for reminders to get up and move throughout the day. It works with Windows, Unix and Linux systems and even includes optional exercises you can do right at your desk!
Open Your Mind
Yoga doesn’t have to mean putting your leg behind your head. Here are a few postures that you can do right at your desk to help alleviate tension caused by bad posture and prolonged sitting.
Swap Your Chair for a Ball
Pilates, or stability balls are a great way to keep yourself active and attentive while working at your desk. They can help you engage your core muscles, which will protect your back in the long run. Check out a few ways to keep yourself moving at your desk, here.
While there are many more approaches that can be taken to relieve stress and tension caused by prolonged sitting and computer use, the tips above are great ways to easily incorporate small yet effective changes throughout your day. All it takes is a little awareness and motivation. Stay tuned for the next post in this series that takes a deeper look at preventing and treating RSI.