Long work hours can feel torturous, and there might be some science behind the aches and pains you experience on a daily basis—your desk job might be ruining your body. From excessive hours spent seated to bad air quality, there’s a bevy of things to be aware of as you head into the office each day.
The Problem with Sitting
Most of us—and about 86 percent of the American workforce—spend eight or more hours a day in a chair. Sitting, however, can have a majorly negative impact on our health. Sitting for long periods of time is actually terrible for our bodies; it increases the risk of obesity, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and skeletal disorders. You might think your tough workout session before or after work can combat this negative effects, but unfortunately, scientists have found that isn’t the case. Ask your supervisors if you can take a five-minute break each hour to take a walk around the building. Better yet, request a movable standing desk that can take you from seated to upright in seconds. Companies like VariDesk offer plenty of options; they’re not cheap, but the investment is likely worth the inherent health benefits.
You probably never thought about the air you’re breathing inside your office, but in many office buildings, the air can be up to 100 times dirtier than outside. Unfiltered air found recirculating throughout the building can contain gases, chemicals, bacteria, and even mold. Ever heard the phrase “Sick Building Syndrome”? It refers to cases in which individuals within a specified building experience immediate health effects with no real cause identified, and these maladies can affect your output and productivity. In “The Sick Building Syndrome”, author Sumedha M. Joshi explains the effects of this office-related illness: “It reduces work efficiency and increases absenteeism. Most of the complainants report relief soon after leaving the building, although lingering effects of neurotoxins can occur.”
The Easily Available Snacks
Most offices have vending machines set up for snacking employees to get their mid-afternoon snack, but unfortunately, most of these vending machine are filled with junk food which can have a terrible effect on our waistlines and overall health. Many such snacks are filled with unhealthy and toxic refined sugars. As poker professional Lee Davy explains, “The liver turns refined sugars into ugly looking cholesterol called triglycerides and LDL. This fat has nowhere to go. It’s stored inside our cells that surround or vital organs, and in storage areas such as your belly, thigh and ass.” If you’ve noticed weight gain and tend to hit up the office vending machine on a daily basis, start packing your own healthy, fresh snacks. Cut up fruits and veggies and keep them in the office refrigerator for ease and accessibility. You’ll feel more energized, and likely find the pounds falling off.
Lack of Sunlight
Being stuck inside an office building all day, especially if you’re seated in an area that doesn’t have access to natural light, can really cut down on your Vitamin D intake. Lack of sunlight doesn’t only effect your happiness; artificial light can also ruin your sleeping patterns, throwing off your REM cycle and causing lethargy and fatigue during the day. Take your lunch break outside and make sure you soak in some sunny rays, and if you’re in a commonly overcast city like Seattle, look into sunlamps that best mimic the natural full spectrum of sun light.
If you stare at a computer screen all day long, your eyes are straining to focus on text and imagery for hours at a time. This can cause immediate and sometimes long-lasting impairments to your vision. Squinting at a screen can also cause headaches and migraines. Be sure to take breaks from your computer screen and keep the brightness level up to ensure your eyes aren’t straining in the dark.
Slouching not only affects your posture, but your health as well. Many of us don’t realize we slouch, and one easy way to remedy this position is to alter the position of our computer monitors. Instead of looking down at a laptop and hunching your shoulders, purchase a movable monitor arm that allows you to keep the monitor at eye level. This will prevent your neck from craning and your back from curving, maintaining better pressure and keeping you more comfortable throughout the day.