Staying healthy at work can be a challenge, especially for startups trying to prove their worth. Employees might be so in the zone that they develop tunnel vision, staring at their computer for hours. Here are a few quick tips to make sure your startup employees stay healthy.
It’s said that sitting is the new smoking. Sitting has been linked to obesity, increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, and abnormal cholesterol levels. According to the Mayo Clinic, people sitting and watching TV for four hours each day had a 50 percent increased risk of death from any cause compared to those who only sat and watched two hours. Worse, they had a 125 percent increased risk of chest pain, heart attacks, and other cardiovascular events.
But hitting the gym after work won’t counteract sitting and working all day. Instead, the Mayo Clinic suggests standing while talking on the phone or during your lunch break. Instead of gathering in a conference room for a meeting, walk laps around the building.
The key to using a standing desk is moderation. You don’t want to stand all day, or you’ll face nearly as many negatives as sitting all day. The list includes joint, back, and neck pain; headaches; numbness in feet and legs, especially from hyperextending or locking your knees; heel spurs or plantar fasciitis; Achilles tendonitis; swelling of the ankles due to improper circulation; and wrist and hand pain from having the keyboard at the wrong height.
In short, you want to vary sitting and standing, and above all, move around. The sedentary lifestyle is a killer, just like smoking.
Staring at monitors
Standing or sitting, you’ll probably be staring at a computer for hours on end. Unfortunately, this often can’t be helped and is the nature of the business. What you can do, however, is make adjustments to how you use your monitor.
First, the monitor should be between 20 and 28 inches from your face. If you have trouble seeing the screen, use the zoom function rather than straining your eyes.
Next, adjust the ambient lighting. Try to match the screen’s brightness to the ambient lighting, and minimize your harsh office lights. Only turn on some lights, or see if the bulbs can be replaced with a softer bulb.
Failing that, use a desk lamp with a soft bulb. For the monitor, look into programs like f.lux, which can make your screen orange-tinted in the morning. This will help your eyes adjust easier, instead of the normally blue-tinged monitor, which is harsher against your eyes.
Your screen should also be at or below eye level, with the latter being preferable. This allows your neck to relax more. If you have two screens, try to make one your “main” screen and have that monitor directly in front of you. If you wear bifocals or progressive lenses, tilt the monitor back slightly.
Finally, take breaks. For every 20 minutes of screen time, look away for a minute or two at something about 20 feet away. Do this for 20 seconds. This will help your eyes readjust and relax. Alternatively, get up and walk around. Leave your phone in your pocket, of course, or the purpose of the walk will be defeated.
Startups can often mean long hours at a desk. Get up, move around, use a standing desk, and take breaks to let your eyes adjust. Just these few changes can help improve your health.