6 great health tips for computer users

1. Beware the strain of working 8-hour days
Eye strain, soreness, visual fatigue and headaches can all result from a computer screen set at an uncomfortable height or angle. You can avoid these 21st century work-related hazards simply by adjusting the position of your screen.

When sitting comfortably and looking at the screen, your eyes should ‘land’ at the top of it. If they don’t, you’re likely to experience eye related difficulties later on.

You may find it easier to re-position your chair, rather than the computer.

Arrange the screen at 90 degrees to your desk, to minimize reflections from ceiling lights and/or high windows.

Take regular breaks. Fatigue and stress aren’t helped by the bright light given off by computer screens. Spend at least 5 minutes every hour doing non-computer work. This will rest your eyes.

2. Stretching your ankles could ease chronic back pain
Shortened Achilles tendons can cause chronic back pain. They prevent you from walking well, putting stress on your spine. Here’s how to relax and strengthen your tendons, reducing the risk to your back.

Stand 60-90cm away from a wall, facing it. Lean towards the wall, putting palms flat against it with both feet on the ground.

Move one foot half the distance to the wall. Keep your other leg straight at the knee, with your heel flat on the floor.

Now, bend the forward knee and both arms slowly and rhythmically.

The back heel must be kept on the floor and the tail tucked in at all times.

Continue for 20 seconds. Relax. Change legs and repeat 10 times.

3. Avoid backache by sitting properly at your desk
Keep your feet firmly on the floor when working. Dangling legs affect your circulation, create bad posture and lead to backache.

4. Avoid computer-related hand and wrist injuries
Do this simple exercise every morning before work. Hold your arms out straight in front of you. Lift up your hands at 90 degrees, and spread your fingers. Hold for five seconds, lower, and relax. Then clench your fists, and lower your wrists at 90 degrees. Hold for five seconds, straighten, and relax. Repeat ten times, and repeat at lunchtime, just before starting work for the afternoon.

5. How leaning on a wall beats back strain and injury
This great daily exercise only takes a few minutes. It helps re-align the muscles in your back, to help undo the strains of everyday life.

Stand with your back against a wall, with your feet 14-20cm (5-8 inches) away from the skirting board.

Now try to flatten the small of your back against the wall, by pulling in your stomach muscles. Do not bend your knees.

Hold this position for five seconds, then relax and repeat five times.

Keep breathing regularly and evenly throughout.

6. Is your office lighting making you ill?
White fluorescent lighting tubes, used in most offices, schools and hospitals, were first implicated in health scares back in the 1970s. The electromagnetic fields around fluorescent tubes can be 4 to 6 times above the accepted exposure levels for an office when sitting down, and up to 32 times when you stand up.

Fluorescent lighting was not meant to come into such general use. It was a temporary, emergency feature that was only ever intended to keep factories working 24 hours a day during the Second World War. This form of lighting is banned in German hospitals and clinics. As far back as 1982, it was the subject of a study at Sydney University, Australia into skin cancers.

And school children are at risk from it too. One study observed fluorescent lights causing nervous fatigue, irritability, lapses of attention and hyperactive behavior. Another study, carried out by eight dentists, even found a very significant increase in the number of cavities and tooth decay in those children working under standard fluorescent lighting. But complaints of headaches, eye problems, electrical sensitivity and other health complaints in the workplace have all been eliminated when these fluorescent tubes are replaced with full spectrum lighting. This mimics the effect of natural sunlight. A well-known London investment bank now using FSL reports low staff illness and turnover, plus higher productivity.

While FSL is more expensive than fluorescent lighting, it actually lasts twice as long. So if you wish to approach your boss with a proposal to switch to FSL in the office, make sure you balance the health benefits against the cost. Less absenteeism and increased productivity will make FSL more cost effective in the long run. Contact your local lighting stockist for further details.

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