[Image © Tamer Tatlici.]
Hi, I’m Mike, and I’m a binge computer worker – my bottom is practically glued to my office chair. This blog entry, in fact, is the end result of a long binge on my PC, having come out of several hours’ work producing a couple of blog entries, several emails, and now ? a few Twitter and Facebook updates.
Binge computing is no joke, really. Defined as intensive computing for long stretches without a break, binge computing is commonplace among college students and office workers alike.
In a survey of college students at two college campuses, a link was discovered between binge computing and musculo-skeletal disorder (MSD) symptoms; longer hours of bingeing led to greater MSD severity and concurrent hampering of lifestyle.
Binge computing for more than six hours seems to be connected to a greater than 100% increase in the risk of severe MSD, compared to computing hours of less than 4 hours per day.
Such health problems are a growing risk for coeds who can’t get off of their office chair – as the Herman Miller Well-Being Blog reports, “increasing numbers of university students [have] computer-related musculoskeletal disorders of the neck, shoulder, arm, and hand. Surveys at two American colleges found that 40-50 percent of undergraduates suffer from upper extremity pain due to computer use.” (Read more)
Whether you’re a college student or an office worker, you’re prone to the bad effects of binge computing. Apart from weight gain (the unavoidable consequence of sedentary work without getting off of your office chair), muscle deterioration can also follow. For example; the gluteus maximus muscles that make up your hindquarters can flatten – a greater degree of flattening indicates a greater degree of muscle atrophy. Finally, weight gain and inactivity eventually leads to cardiovascular disease. 2 weight gains same paragraph?
Your spine is also endangered by continued contact with your office chair. “Prolonged sitting is a risk factor for herniated disks,” says Michael Bracko, a spokesman for the American College of Sports Medicine.
To counteract binge computing, three simple precautions need to be followed.
Take short, frequent breaks – spaced an hour apart. When working for extended periods, take note of tension in your body parts; you can relieve these by getting off of your office chair and taking a break.
Short breaks are better than longer breaks of lesser frequency. When on your break, stand up and stretch those muscles and joints you’ve enslaved to your office chair for the past hour. A break means time spent away from the office chair – a gaming break on your PC doesn’t count!
Vary your tasks. Use the breaks as dividers to vary your tasks in the day – say you’re answering your emails in one stretch, then break, then when you sit back down at your office chair, and on to the next task.
Track down and eliminate sources of stress. Evaluate your workplace, pinpoint things that stress you out, and find out what you can do to eliminate those sources of stress.
The lesson here is that work habits can be just as important to productivity (if not more) as salaries, office lighting, and the odd ergonomic office chair. Binge computing can be counterproductive if your body rebels against your bad work habits; Small adjustments can go a long way to help resolve MSD’s.
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