Healthy bodies for constant computer-users
Whether you’re a writer, editor, proofreader, scribe or typist, if you work full-time sitting in a chair in front of a computer screen and you want to live a long life, you need to stick to four important rules:
- look after your posture,
- look after your eyes,
- take regular breaks, and
- use water, food and daily exercise to stay healthy.
Look after your posture
If you work in a profession where you’re constantly working on a computer and don’t have good posture, you’ll end up with chronic problems in your back, neck, shoulders, wrists, fingers and/or ankles.
You can keep your body relatively healthy by making sure that when typing, you:
- Sit with your back and neck relaxed but straight (with or without a backrest for support).
- Position your computer screen at such a height that you’re looking straight ahead (not tilting your head up or down).
- Position your chair at such a height that when typing, your elbows are level with your wrists.
- Use footrests or other tools to keep your feet at a height that makes sure your knees are level with your hips.
- Curve your fingers and relax them as you type. Use your finger tips (not the flats of your fingers) to strike the keys. Make sure the backs of your hands are level with your wrists by hovering your hands just above the keyboard, rather than resting them on the keyboard or desk.
- If your mouse-hand gets hand-strain, you can either change your mousing method (e.g. use the keys, a touch-pad or an ergonomic mouse).
- Some people choose different types of posture to work at a desk or computer; e.g. stand or use a kneeling stool rather than sitting on an office chair.
Look after your eyes
If you’re writing, editing, proofreading, typing or scribing, make sure your office is suitably lit. Your workplace needs to be bright enough that you can easily see what you need to (e.g. computer screen, documentation, whiteboard). But if the lighting is too bright or harsh it may give you eye strain.
The lighting of your computer screen needs to be adjusted to the best level of brightness for your particular eyes; or you can adjust your screen to a pastel colour instead of white. If you wear glasses, get anti-glare lenses; they make the computer screen easier on the eyes.
Take regular breaks
When you spend your days typing at the computer, it’s very important to take these regular breaks.
Every 10 minutes or so make sure you look away from the screen briefly – at the opposite wall, or outside the window – to stretch your focus. While you’re at it, stretch your neck, shoulders, arms; shake your hands. Just 15 seconds stretch of your eyes and body is enough to give them a micro-break.
After each hour working at the computer screen, make sure you take at least a five-minute break. Get up and move about, exercising not only your body but your eyes as well. Stretch and shake your hands gently; bend them backwards (the opposite of their position when typing). Gaze at an object at the other side of the room or better still, out the window at the trees or hills in the distance.
During the day, take different breaks to grab a cuppa, go to the toilet or go outside for a few breaths of fresh air. There’s nothing like oxygen to wake your brain up!
Water, food, exercise and rest
This article is based on my own experiences as owner/operator of On Time Typing, a scribing and editing business, and working at home for 19 years.
For other articles about staying healthy at work, go to: Work-life balance.
Image: Thank you to WOCinTechChat for permission to use this image.
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