For Your Health
Is Your Computer Hurting Your Health?
How to banish an aching back, blurry eyes and hands that hurt
Computers are a fundamental of life these days. We work on them, learn about our world, watch videos, shop, keep up with our friends. We spend hours and hours every day pecking away and staring at our screens. For the most part, this has opened up and brightened our lives. But there are health concerns to be aware of, including some surprises.
Back Pain: Almost anybody who puts in regular screen time sooner or later has walked away from the computer rubbing her lower back. There are a number of things you can do to keep your back healthy and ouch-free. Posture is number one with a bullet, so resist the urge to lean forward and hunch your shoulders as you type. Ideally, your shoulders should be back, your head erect. Elbows and thighs should make a right angle with your trunk. Once you’re sitting pretty, remember to get up periodically to walk around and stretch. Some experts recommend two minutes of activity for every half hour of computer use. Finally, check out your equipment. Is your desk chair comfortable? Does it encourage proper posture? If not, consider an ergonomic model: There are a number of good choices from makers like Herman Miller and Humanscale. Too pricey? My daughter found the Aeron chair of her dreams for 50 percent off on Craig’s List.
Eye Strain: Your baby blues do not want to stare at a monitor all day, no matter how wacky the latest offerings on YouTube. It’s a major cause of dry eye and other vision discomfort. There are a number of things you can do to ease the problem. Make sure the lighting is right, which means not too bright. Draw the shades if necessary to eliminate glare. Check that your computer screen is not higher than your eyes, which can cause them to dry out. Replace CRT monitors with LCD ones, which are kinder to your vision. Blink often to keep your eyes lubricated, and look away from the computer regularly. For more excellent advice for handling computer vision issues, go to allaboutvision.com.