Healthy "U" September Newsletter
Stay Healthy While Sitting at a Computer All Day
Dr. Aijuan Dong, Associate Professor of Computer Science
With a career involving computers, I spend long hours each day sitting, staring and typing. Even when I am not working, I spend significant time on my computer for entertainment. Many years of wear and tear finally took a toll on my body, and I was forced to learn how to “behave” myself behind the desk. The bits and pieces below are what I have learned during this journey. Please keep in mind that my degree is in computer science, not occupational health.
Eye and Vision
Eye and vision problems are caused by locking your eyes in the same position for long periods. Your eye muscles are strained, gradually weakened, and eventually unable to contract or relax properly, which makes it more difficult to see objects close by or far away.
The following few simple tips helped me and may help you as well:
* Blink often. When staring at screens, humans blink about a half or a third of what they normally would, which leads to dry, irritated and tired eyes. Blinking bathes your eyes in tears, and tears are naturally therapeutic for the eyes.
* Follow the 20/20/20 rule. For every 20 minutes looking at a comuter screen, look at an object 20 feet or more away for 20 seconds. It takes about 20 seconds for your eyes to completely relax. Alternately, you can take a 15-minute break for every two hours of screen time. I often combine these two approaches since it is hard for me to strictly follow the 20/20/20 approach.
* Position your monitor correctly. Two factors come into play: viewing angle and viewing distance (Figure 1). For laptops, a desktop stand or riser is a wise investment. A few thick books will do the trick as well.
Figure 1. Position the Monitor
Source: Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety
Back, Neck and Shoulder
Lower back pain is often the result of sitting for long periods of time in a chair without proper support to the lower back (lumbar) region. Tilting the head backward or forward causes a pain in the neck and shoulders, which commonly happens when the monitor is either too high or too low. Improper placement of work materials is another common cause of neck problems.
A few simple ways to prevent these problems:
* Stretch, stand up, or walk around in the office as much as possible. Do not worry about losing efficiency—doing this while thinking and taking breaks is conducive to efficiency.
* When at home or when you can close your office door for some quiet work, wear a lumbosacral belt to prevent you from slipping into that improper posture.
Maintain neutral body postures while working at the computer workstation (Figure 2).
Figure 2. Ergonomics using a computer workstation
Source: OSHA Computer Workstations eTool
Arm and Wrist
Arm and wrist problems are commonly caused by constant and consistent repetition of arm and wrist movement and overuse, i.e., Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI). Untreated symptoms can progress from pain to unusual clumsiness, and may lead to irreparable nerve damage.
A few simple ways to prevent arm and wrist injuries:
*Hold the mouse lightly and learn to operate it with both hands.
*Relax your arms or stretch during breaks (Figure 3). Find one routine that works for you, or, even better, combine a few and create your own.
Figure 3. Ergonomics Exercises (partial)
Source: click here (adapted from Ergonomics from University of Western Ontario)
Mobile Device andTablet Usage
According to data released by Statcounter, mobile and tablet internet usage exceeded desktop usage for the first time worldwide in November 2016, with 51.3 percent of visits coming from mobile devices compared to 48.7 percent of visits from traditional computing platforms. Some issues are unique to mobile usage. More information on these issues can be found in the resources below.
Bibliography and Resources:
*"Position the Monitor." Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, 2016. Web. 21 July 2017
*"The 20/20/20 Rule." Oregon State Unversity, 2011. Web. 21 July 2017.
*The Keys to Healthy Computing: A Health and Safety Handbook." AFSCME. N.p., 2008. Web. 21 July 2017.
*"What Are the Health Risks Associated with Mobile Phones and Their Base Stations?" WHO. World Health Organization, 2013. Web. 21 July 2017.
* Naeem, Zahid. “Health Risks Associated with Mobile Phones Use.” International Journal of Health Sciences 8.4 (2014): V–VI. Print.
Get the Shot Not the Flu
If you would like a flu vaccine, you may come into Hood College Health Center Monday - Friday from 9 a.m .- 6 p.m. The cost of the vaccine is $15.00 cash or check made out to Hood College. Please see the attachments with details about the 2017 flu vaccine.
Food Day - October 24
The Graduate School and Healthy "U"
are jointly sponsoring this year's Food Day event in the Whitaker Campus Center Commons from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Food Day is a nationwide event that "brings Americans together to celebrate and enjoy real food and to push for improved food policies. Learn more about the movement here. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for additional details.
Mindfulness Meditation and Relaxation
Relax and learn stress reduction techniques by meditating with Beth O'Malley in the McHenry Interfaith Prayer Room, Monday and Thursday afternoons, 12:30-1 p.m., Coffman Chapel basement.
Weekly Chapel Services
Services have moved to Tuesday afternoons, 12:30-1 p.m..
Sol Yoga sessions will continue in the fall.