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How Computers Affect Your Health

Written by Beth Marlin Lichter
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Computers are taking a toll on our health. We spend fewer hours walking upright, more and more time hunched over, eyes squinting, back aching, in front of the computer screen. So much of our work is done at the computer station. Hours go by, our bodies frozen into awkward positions and our minds aching for relief. This is especially true of people who work from home, or with lap-tops. The hours fly by. Before you know it, eight of them have passed without a decent meal or any exercise.
Here are some things to consider, in order to combat the ill-effects of spending large chunks of the day (and night) at the computer:

1. Eye strain is a common complaint and one’s eyes tend to get worse, as years of staring at a computer monitor accrue. If you find your eyes are getting tired and text becomes blurred, consider an eye exam and a pair of glasses. If you already wear glasses, it is possible that perhaps they are either too weak or even too strong for working at your computer. Experiment and come up with the right prescription to ease strain on the eyes. Make sure your monitor is positioned the right distance away from your body and is lit correctly.
2. Correct your posture. Now that the computer screen is the proper distance from your body, make sure you have a good chair to sit in. You should be able to sit completely upright, without hunching your shoulders forward, with your feet resting on the floor, thighs completely parallel with the floor and lower legs at right angles to your thighs. There should be no loss of circulation in the legs. Next, with elbows bent, wrists and forearms should be aligned so the hands are not tilted upwards while working the keyboard. This will lessen the likelihood of tendon and wrist problems associated with repetitive motions.
3. Take breaks. The more sedentary we become, the more health problems tend to creep into our lives. Schedule time to eat and exercise, even if it’s just a short walk around the block. Get up and move.
4. Don’t work through extreme fatigue. It’s bad for the body and it’s bad for the mind. More can be accomplished in two hours of being refreshed and alert, than four hours of pushing through burn-out.
5. Learn to recognize the signs of computer-related stress, fatigue and physical discomfort and come up with a plan to address these issues as soon as possible.

Work smart. Work healthy.

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