How to Stay Healthy and Productive at Your Computer - ManageWP

How to Stay Healthy and Productive at Your Computer

How to Stay Healthy and Productive at Your Computer

I doubt there’s a single person reading this who isn’t aware of the fact that prolonged computer usage is accompanied by negative health implications. However, it is probably not something that you give a great deal of thought to.

And that is a major issue, because we are exactly the type of people who need to sit up and pay attention to such matters. By “we”, I mean intensive computer users. You may be a WordPress blogger, a web designer, or a developer. All of these disciplines require long hours in front of a screen. And those hours can really take their toll.

With that in mind, today I want to explore the potential (and actual) issues we face as intensive computer users, and how methods of combating computer-related injuries can not only benefit your health, but also your productivity.

Common Problems Faced by Intensive Computer Users

As our society becomes more and more sedentary, workplace injuries are evolving.

Ten years ago, back injuries in the workplace were most commonly attributed to heavy lifting. These days, the cause is more likely to be related to sitting at a desk for prolonged periods of time. The average age of carpal tunnel syndrome sufferers was late 30s to early 40s — it is now mid 20s.

Furthermore, it has been proven that sitting in front of a computer screen for five or more hours a day can dramatically increase the risk of insomnia and/or depression. How long do you spend in front of a screen on a daily basis?

Time
A hell of a long time, I’m willing to bet.

In addition to the above injuries and maladies, intensive computer users can  suffer from the following during their lifetime (and more):

I’m just scratching the surface here, but these issues are highlighted by the astonishing cost of computer-related injuries (CRIs) to US businesses, which is estimated to be in the region of $60-100 billion.

What Are the Common Causes of CRIs?

There are no particularly complicated causes of CRIs. You could probably take a look at your daily computer usage habits and spot exactly what you are doing that has negative health implications:

So if we know what causes most CRIs, the question then is, how do we prevent them?

CRI Prevention

As much as the common causes of CRIs are pretty obvious, the things you should do in order to prevent them are also rather self-explanatory:

So now we understand what causes CRIs, and we also understand how to cure them. The next obvious question therefore is, why is it that CRIs are such a major issue? The problem is of course in implementing and sticking to new, healthy habits.

Making It Work

It should be clear that the above mentioned improvements to your workplace habits can have clear health and productivity benefits. Generally speaking, if you are healthier and happier, you will be more productive. More specifically, according to the New York Times, a growing body of evidence suggests that those regular breaks you’ll now be taking serve to increase productivity.

Take a Break
Take a break — it’s good for you in every way.

Having said that, it is an unfortunate fact that many people who have read this far will probably fail to establish healthier habits in the long run. The simple reason for this is because new habits are really tough to establish. Everything you do to establish a habit until it actually becomes one requires conscious effort, and that can be tough to keep up. In fact, research has demonstrated that it takes (on average) 66 days to establish a new habit.

In my opinion, there are three main ways in which you can combat the struggle to establish new habits:

  1. Understand that forming habits is a process — what is difficult to do today can eventually become second nature.
  2. Start with small habits and work your way up incrementally — smaller habits take less time to establish, and will provide positive motivation.
  3. Continuously remind yourself of the potential benefits of the habit you are forming, and the potential repercussions if you do not stick to it.

Are You Healthy?

I would love to know how you feel about your current workplace conditions and habits. Do you think that you work in a healthy environment? Do you have healthy habits? Let us know in the comments section!

Additional Sources

Creative Commons image courtesy of joelogonDeaPeaJay and gadl

Tom Ewer

Tom Ewer is the founder of WordCandy.co. He has been a huge fan of WordPress since he first laid eyes on it, and has been writing educational and informative content for WordPress users since 2011. When he's not working, you're likely to find him outdoors somewhere – as far away from a screen as possible!

8 Comments

  1. Claudia Hall Christian

    I can’t stand very long due to a back injury, but we converted an inexpensive treadmill in to a walking station. It’s awesome. I do a lot of editing on the station. Mine is very simple – monitor goes to my computer, old wooden shelves we found in the alley. It works great. My biggest problems is doing too much (back issue again). The husband has a standing station. He uses a shelf on a book shelf nearby. He puts one of those foam mats used in gyms for a little padding and wha la. Works great and almost eliminates any of his back issues.

    So there are ways to do it without breaking the bank! 😉

  2. cercacielo

    I use a sit-stand desk (Geek Desk, admittedly not cheap). But the best thing I ever did, which has eliminated years of chronic neck / upper back pain for five years now, is to put my monitors on pedestals. Mine are 9″ tall and made of wood, but you can just stack a pile of books. It forces you to have straight posture and makes a tremendous difference.

    1. ManageWP

      That sounds like an interesting advice. Where is the position of your eyes now in relation to the center of the screen?

  3. Nick Haskins

    Try a stand-up desk. I moved to one years ago, and will never go to a normal desk again. Here’s an old pic. Running Mac now, but still the same desk.

    http://nickhaskins.com/2011/10/stand-up-desk/

    1. vprelovac

      Interesting concept. Do your legs swell?

    2. josbradley

      @Nick Haskins – I recently saw someone else touting the benefits of a stand-up desk. Your legs don’t get tired after standing all day? You don’t start slouching because you’re back gets tired?

    3. Steven

      I also have a stand up desk. It really makes a huge difference. Check out this nice graphic from Wired: http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/10/mf-standing-desk/
      It is important to have the geometry right. I have also found that I move more which is crucial for your health. Legs do not swell! I also set a timer for taking breaks to do sit ups, push-ups or lift some weights.

      1. Tom Ewer

        I’m more and more tempted by the concept…

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