On some level, most of us know that sitting at an office desk (or sitting in general) isn’t the healthiest way to spend your day. But if that’s your job, and it’s a busy job that you’ve got, then it’s easy to put all the potential health risks out of your mind and continue working. One day, however, you might regret it.
You don’t have to sacrifice much to make your office job easier on your body. Here are at least five bad habits you should watch out for, why they’re so bad and what you can do right now to fix them!
1. Sitting for long periods of time and trying to offset it with a daily visit to the gym
Daily exercise certainly is a good thing, but even an hour of hitting it hard in the gym every day won’t be enough to undo the damage you’re causing your body by sitting all day at work (not to mention sitting in the car during your commute, sitting on the couch in the evening and of course being horizontal at night). Countless studies have found relationships between sitting and increased risk of heart disease, cancer and early death—even for those who exercise regularly.
Maintaining light movement all day long is far healthier than staying sedentary all day and exercising for 30 to 60 minutes. You should aim to get up and walk around every 20 to 45 minutes that you spend sitting. If you can’t take a break, even standing up for a few seconds before sitting back down can be enough to provide some benefit.
2. Staring at a computer that forces you to lean forward, tilt your head, or squint at the screen
Ever heard of tech neck? That’s the lingo that’s now being used to describe the strain you put on your neck and spine from staring down at mobile devices so often, but it can apply to computer monitors, too. If you work from a laptop, chances are the screen isn’t level with your eyes when you keep your gaze straight up and looking forward out in front of you.
Your computer monitor should be at a level height with your gaze so you don’t have to tilt your head up or down at all. It should also be centered and at about an arm’s length away from you. If you have to twist your neck, lean forward, or squint your eyes, then you know you need to reposition your monitor, get a better chair to comfortably support your posture or adjust the font size on your screen.
3. Never cleaning your computer keyboard, mouse or desk surface
If you touch your computer and desk every day, then it’s probably just teeming with bacteria. In fact, your computer keyboard and mouse could be even filthier than the average toilet seat. And that’s bad news for when cold and flu season comes rolling around.
You should wipe your entire desk surface down with an antibacterial, green cleaning solution at least once every 1 to 2 weeks. You can spray the same solution over a paper towel or cloth and use it to wipe your keyboard keys and mouse too.
4. Eating at your desk
Not only does eating at your desk cause more germs to fester around your workspace (see the previous point number three to fix that), but avoiding a real lunch break is just bad for your brain and productivity in general. Researchers from the University of Berlin studied a group of people who ate lunch quickly at their office desks and another group of people who went outside the office for lunch found that the group who went out felt far more relaxed and in control of their cognition when they returned to their work.
That doesn’t mean you have to go out to restaurants every day. Even if you could get out to a park, to your workplace’s cafeteria, or to a small coffee shop, you’ll be giving your brain the break it needs to feel less stressed and more refreshed for the afternoon shift.
Multitasking includes everything from letting new emails distract you while you’re supposed to be creating a presentation to listening to the radio as you struggle to write a report. When your attention has to be split in multiple parts when trying to focus on multiple tasks at the same time, the quality of your performance suffers.
You can easily kill this bad habit by—you guess it—completing one task at a time! Make a to-do list and commit to never moving on to the next task without completing the prior one first.
Source: Care2.com, Elise Moreau