Before my to transition to tech, I was a registered nurse. This gives me a unique perspective on the health impact a career as a software developer has on one's body. I personally have found programming to be shockingly physically stressful considering its sedentary nature.
This blog post sets out to bring attention to the little things that we all do on a daily basis that can have long-term impact on our health. Small changes in the way you work can have a huge impact on your overall well-being.
Here are five things that everyone in tech is guilty of...
1. We Sit More Than We Should
This might seem trivial, but it turns out that sitting for extended periods of time can actually be incredibly dangerous in the long run.
An analysis of 13 studies of sitting time and activity levels found that those who sat for more than eight hours a day with no physical activity had a risk of dying similar to the risks of dying posed by obesity and smoking.
-Edward R. Laskowski, M.D.
Eventually, too much sitting can deteriorate your cardiovascular system, cause you to gain weight, increase your cholesterol, and raise your blood pressure. Sitting for long periods of time also causes varicose veins.
What you can do to avoid this: Stand. Frequently. Around every 30 minutes is recommended. If you are unable to stand regularly, doing 60-75 minutes of moderately intense cardiovascular exercise daily can negate the setbacks of excessive sitting.
2. We Stare At Screens All Day
CVS isn't just your neighborhood drug store, it is also a condition called "Computer Vision Syndrome" also called "Digital Eye Strain", and its symptoms are all too familiar.
The effects of too much screen time include blurred vision, dry/red eyes, headaches, neck/back pain.
How can you avoid this: Following a 20-20-20 rule is recommended. Every 20 minutes look away from your screen for 20 seconds at something about 20 feet away. If you wear glasses to see far away, take them off while working on your computer. Turn down the brightness of your screen. Reduce glare in your work environment. Rest your eyes for a full 15 minutes after two hours of computer use.
3. Our Posture is Awful
You probably straightened up a little as you read that.
In addition to neck and back pain, bad posture can lead to poor digestion, decreased circulation, reduced lung capacity, and increased fatigue.
What you can do to avoid this: Be aware of your posturing. Set timers to remind yourself regularly to pay attention until good posture becomes a habit. Make sure you have the tools you need to have good posture, including an ergonomically designed chair and a movable monitor that you can adjust to avoid neck strain.
4. We Do Not Hydrate
To be fair... no one does. Approximately 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated.
Water is your body's principal chemical component and makes up about 60 percent of your body weight. Your body depends on water to survive.
Symptoms of dehydration include fatigue, irritability, reduced concentration, increased anxiety, hunger, and foggy memory.
What you can do to avoid this: Drink more water (and fewer caffeinated beverages). Approximately 12-16 cups of water daily is recommended by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.
5. We Use Repetitive Hand Movements
Until everything becomes voice-controlled, our fingers will have to keep on putting in the grunt work. Unfortunately, this regular, unnatural movement has poor implications for our health.
Those most at risk for RSI include:
- Use a computer for over 2-4 hours a day
- Do not take breaks often
- Have a stressful or sedentary lifestyle
- Do not sleep well enough
- Those who ignore their risk factors
In simple medical terms, repetitive strain injury (RSI) is defined as a cumulative trauma disorder (CTD) stemming from prolonged repetitive, forceful, or awkward hand movements.
-Dr. Emil Pascarelli and Deborah Quilter
What you can do to avoid this: Follow the rules for ergonomic typing... elbows at 90 degrees, floating fingers, sit up straight. Avoid using a mouse when possible. Only type as much as you need to. Stretch regularly.
Hopefully you have found some useful health reminders within this blog and will find ways to incorporate them into your daily routine.
Happy Healthy coding!