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5 ways your office is killing you
Whether you love your job or are actively searching for new opportunities, stress has inevitably driven you to utter the words "This job is killing me!" at least once during your career. And while you may have been jokingly referring to deadlines, difficult clients or a lazy coworker, you may not be too far from the truth.
Although the traditional 9-to-5 office lifestyle has been around for quite sometime, doctors have recently discovered that it could actually be harming the health and well-being of workers all around the world. If you're employed in a standard professional setting, check out these five ways your office could be killing you.
1. Sitting down all day
You know that exercise is essential, but hitting the gym before or after work might not be enough. According to Business Insider, sitting too much throughout your life, regardless of how active you are once you get up, can actually cause you to die early. This startling statement alludes to the fact that sitting for extended periods of time has been linked to serious health issues like obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer and skeletal disorders. The New York Daily News noted that being sedentary has also been connected with high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Being chair-bound for nine hours everyday can negatively impact your mental health as well.
"Sitting is linked to serious health problems."
Many health-conscious employers have started seeking solutions to this problem. Some business trends have companies implementing employee exercise initiatives and even offering complementary gym memberships. Many individual workers are also aware of this issue. According to a recent ProOpinion poll, over 33 percent of respondents cited sitting all day as being the biggest health threat in their work days.
While working out a few times each week is always a good idea, simply cramming all your physical activity into a few evenings won't make up for the 40 hours of sitting you do every week. Because sitting is so ingrained in professional workplaces, however, it can be hard to avoid it. Do your best to schedule walks throughout the day - The New York Daily News recommended scheduling "walk-and-talk" meetings instead of traditional sit-down talks.
You can't avoid sitting entirely, so you might as well practice proper form when you're sedentary. Unfortunately, many professionals hunch themselves over their computer screens or slouch awkwardly in their chairs. Not only does sinking into your workspace make you appear less confident and professional, but it's seriously harming your body.
"People who sit at a desk for a long period of time tend to roll their shoulders in and hang their head forward. Every inch you hold your head forward, you add 10 pounds of pressure on your spine. Let's say you're leaning into your monitor by just two inches, that's 20 extra pounds that your back and spinal column have to endure," explained Dr. Jason Queiros, a Chiropractor at Stamford Sports and Spine in Connecticut, to Men's Fitness magazine.
Bad posture can contribute to headaches, jaw pains, balance issues, spinal alignment problems, arthritis and bursitis. Prevent yourself from falling prey to these serious health issues by regularly checking your posture. Men's Fitness recommended squeezing your shoulder blades together and stretching your upper back, and always focusing on back strengthening exercises when working out. You should also do chin pulls throughout the day, where you suck in your neck to give yourself a double chin, then stretch the back of your head. You should also stretch your arms and shoulders regularly to prevent yourself from sinking back down into a slouch.
3. Practicing poor eating habits
While the college days of 4:00 AM ramen noodles have come and gone, many professionals practice similarly harmful eating habits. Your hectic schedule, combined with limited lunchtime options and tempting break room snack stashes, could be wreaking havoc on your well-being. Many workers are guilty of skipping breakfast, which sets them up for low energy later in the day, which they then try to fix with sugary vending machine treats. This vicious cycle of unhealthy eating habits is ubiquitous in many workplaces, where donuts are treated as a central food group.
"Professionals should start their days with hearty breakfasts."
According to the New York Daily News, professionals should always start their days with hearty breakfasts, which will keep them satisfied and energized all morning. Coffee is a perfectly acceptable accompaniment, but you should limit yourself to three cups each day. The good news is that by eating right, your energy level will be stable and you won't need to depend on multiple caffeine fixes. Pack a nutritious lunch so you won't be enticed by the burger place around the corner, and always drink plenty of water throughout the day. Many people mistake dehydration for hunger, and end up consuming extra calories when they should have been filling up on H2O.
4. Staring at your computer screen
No matter what industry you work in, you're dependent on your computer to get your job done. Even on busy, meeting-filled days, you likely spend a significant chunk of time staring at that familiar screen. This practice probably also extends into your personal life, as most people use smartphones, tablets, laptops and televisions long after they leave the office. Looking at a screen for too long can actually cause a medical issue known as "computer vision syndrome," explained the Washington Post. If you regularly experience dry, burning or itching eyes, you could be affected by this digital disease.
While you can't eliminate screens entirely, you can make adjustments. The source explained that professionals should look 20 feet away for 20 seconds after every 20 minutes of computer use, a technique known as the "20-20-20" rule.
5. Being near sick coworkers
Children often come home from daycare coughing and sneezing after having been exposed to the germs of other kids. While you're a professional in an office setting, the same idea applies - sitting in an enclosed space with sick coworkers inevitably increases your chances of contracting their illnesses. Offices are also filled with communal surfaces, like desks, mouses, pens, staplers, phones, doorknobs and conference room tables. Your workplace's kitchen and bathroom are also breeding grounds for harmful bacteria.
Of course, being generally unhealthy will lower your immune system's ability to fight off diseases, so you should make an effort to lead an overall healthy lifestyle. Prevent yourself from catching the office cold by washing your hands throughout the day, not touching your face and steering clear of obviously sick people. If you can telecommute, take advantage of working from home when multiple coworkers have a bug.
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