From muscular-skeletal disorders to sleep cycle issues, here are some of the health risks of desk jobs and what you can do to prevent long-term body damage.
You’re likely already aware, but sitting for an extended period of time is not great for your body’s long-term health. It should not surprise anyone that more than 86% of American workers remain in the seated position throughout the workday. But that’s not all; we also sit while we eat, commute, hang out, and relax. Aches and pains are the least of your potential worries to such a sedentary lifestyle. Our bodies require exercise and movement, and it rarely receives what it needs while at work. Unfortunately, the walk during your commute is not enough. Below we will discuss some of the health risks of desk jobs and what you can do to prevent long-term damage.
Muscular-skeletal disorders can affect the nerves, muscles, blood vessels, ligaments, and tendons. For office workers, this is often caused by slouching over a desk, poor posture, and awkward body positioning. Examples of MSDs are:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Muscle strains and low back injuries
- Rotator cuff injuries
- Trigger finger
To prevent such issues ergonomic chairs, desks, and keyboards are extremely helpful. Avoid repetitive tasks or sustained awkward positions. If you are typing regularly or sitting all day, get up and stretch both your back, hands, and fingers (and the joints therein). Walk around and take frequent breaks.
Sleep Cycle Issues
It may surprise you to find out that light can have a severe effect on your perception day and night. Exposure to natural light during the day helps to improve your mood, cognitive performance, and energy levels. On the other hand, unnatural light, like that blue light we get from our screens, tablets, or phones, artificially boosts your attention and mood during the day.
While this might be helpful for work time, if you are working at night, these screens can throw off your brain and its circadian rhythm. Blue light exposure can delay and obstruct your body’s melatonin release, thus throwing off your sleep cycle and making it harder for your body to receive its much-needed rest. For this reason, it would be wise to use a blue light filter on all of your screens, especially at night. Unless of course, you are a member of the sleepless elite.
A common problem for office workers with desk jobs is that they neglect to eat healthily. Many office workers do not prepare lunch; rather, they go out for an unhealthy meal. Fast food is an especially bad choice due to its high concentrations of calories, salt levels, oxidized fat, and sugars. Diabetes and obesity are serious consequences of an unhealthy diet.
No one would deny that office life is insanely busy and sometimes you just do not have the chance to prepare lunch. That said, it would be wise to try and eat healthy as much as possible. Pay attention to portion size and caloric intake. Even if you think your schedule will not allow it, you have to find time to exercise either before work, during lunch, or once you get off. Even a mile-long run or walk is better than nothing and will not take more than 10 minutes of your time. Consider downloading an application to help you set exercise goals and healthy routines, track your activity, and stay motivated.
Poor Posture: Sitting Is The New Smoking
Forward head posture is frequently referred to as “text neck” and is an increasingly common cause for spinal or muscle problems in the upper back, shoulders, and neck. Much of this is caused by hunching over a desk or staring down at a phone. That’s right, sitting is the new smoking. If you have a desk job, to prevent such issues, it is essential you exercise and practice good posture. This looks like the following:
- An aligned spine
- Tightened stomach muscles
- Arms by your side, elbows straight and evenly placed
- Evenly distributed body weight
- Chest bracing outwards
- Chine even with the floor
- Hips even
- Knees pointed directly ahead
- Shoulders pulled back
By strengthening the muscles in these areas and practicing good posture, you will make a habit of it and maintaining proper posture will become second nature.
Health Consequences From Office Work & Desk Jobs
While there are no immediate dangers to life in an office, repeated motion, lousy lighting, poor posture, too much time sitting, and an unhealthy diet can wreak havoc in the long-term. It is essential that you take steps to prevent any ailments from affecting you while working desk jobs. These problems are compounding, so get in front of them today.