Brought to you by Good Health magazine
Slash your risk for obesity, bad breath, back pain and eye problems with these clever on-the-job health checks, writes Jane Worthington.
Don't be a sitting duck
Sitting at a desk for hour upon hour places more stress on your back than standing, says Andrew Dalwood, spokesman for the Australian Physiotherapy Association."To put sitting in perspective when you stand, each disc in your back supports 100kg of pressure on average, while when sitting, each disc has to tolerate between 140kg of pressure even in a good posture. In a slouched position, however, pressure can increase to almost 185kg pressure that is equal to standing up and sitting forward or washing your face in a sink," he says.Dalwood explains that slouching, along with incorrectly using a computer mouse, can lead to nagging back and neck pain.
Dalwood's one-minute exercise
Bring your chair closer to your desk so you're sitting straight, not slouching, and also reducing the reach of the arms. Make sure your feet are not dangling use a footrest if need be. If you're wearing high heels, this will change the height of your thighs, so ensure the back of your knees are at least three fingers away from the front edge of the chair to allow for circulation. The base of your chair should be tilted slightly forward, so your hips are higher than your knees, and the centre of the chair's back support should be in the small curve of the lower back. Gently bring your shoulders backwards, tuck in your chin and think tall, or imagine you are lifting the crown of your head to the roof.Dalwood suggests looking for opportunities to stand, such as when you're on the phone. He also urges people to walk to the office next door rather than email. "The spine likes movement," he says.
Know your Eye-Q
If you're staring at a screen for six to eight hours a day, don't underestimate the strain you're placing on your eyes," says Jared Slater, optometrist and national spokesman for the Optometrists Association Australia."The normal blink rate is about 10 to 15 times a minute. However, when you're staring at a fixed object like a computer, your blink rate can reduce by 50 per cent. This means less lubrication, which can lead to dry-eye symptoms such as burning, irritation, redness and blurry vision."
Try Slater's one-minute health check
Try to consciously blink more often at your desk and take a mini-break from your screen every 30 minutes. If you don't have time to leave your desk, give your eyes a break by looking out the window or at something at the far end of the office. Make sure your screen is at a comfortable distance away from your eyes and that you're looking straight ahead, not up or down.Good lighting is also important, so aim to position yourself where there's reduced glare from the sun or overhead lights. Also, if you notice that you're holding your office reports further away in order to be able to read them, you may need prescription glasses for reading or lubricant eye drops, says Slater.
"Today, Australians spend just under three hours a day watching television," says Eliza Dawes, personal trainer at Elixr Health Clubs."That's about eight years of the average life span [spent] sitting in front of the box. Then think about the hour a day or so we spend in the car, bus or train getting to work, and then several hours sitting at a desk. All this sitting may contribute to a sedentary lifestyle, which can lead to obesity, muscle strain and cramps."
Try Dawes' one-minute exercise tips
Every hour, take a minute to stand up and stretch. Gently push your left palm towards the floor and tip your head to the right to stretch your neck, then do the other side. Walk down a few flights of stairs to fill your water bottle. Do some push-ups against your desk, tap your feet as if you are running sitting down, or contract all your muscles, hold for a second or two, release and repeat a few times.
For the full story, see the June issue of Good Health. Subscribe to Good Health and receive 12 issues of Good Health & 6 FREE issues of The Australian Women's Weekly that's 18 issues for just $69.95!