Ergonomics and Why Your Back Hurts.

This is a bit off topic – but it isn’t just “coders” or “programmers” that sit at a desk staring lovingly into a screen most of the work day.  A large percentage of us spend a substantial amount of time – between work – personal and business email – social media or just wasting time in front of a computer.  And, this is proving to be pretty tough on our bodies.Computer Ergonomics

JUST all this sitting is bad for us – I guess this shouldn’t be a huge surprise – but the Mayo Clinic had this to say about sitting for prolonged periods.

“Researchers have linked sitting for long periods of time with a number of health concerns, including obesity and metabolic syndrome — a cluster of conditions that includes increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels.”

Source: [Mayo Clinic Article]

Here is another great article from Like Hacker that talks about some of the effects of sitting for just 6 hours a day for a decade.

“Sitting for over six hours a day for a decade or two can cut away about seven quality adjusted life years (the kind you want). It increases your risk of dying of heart disease by 64 percent and your overall risk of prostate or breast cancer increases 30 percent.”

So the short solution seems to be don’t sit for so long without some type of movement.  This Australian study showed  getting up every hour or so showed to help decrease a lot of these problems.

And apparently a standing desk which seems to be all the rage recently – is an improvement – but can cause similar problems as well – it just appears that when using a standing desk most folks seem to move around more often and therefore overall it is a better solution for most people.

So besides just sitting – which appears to be bad enough on it’s own lets talk about the back, neck, hand and arm issues of typing on a keyboard for days on end.   All sorts of serious issues from chronic neck pain to carpal tunnel syndrome can come from heavy computer use.

So, if your job is to work at a computer – or your job involves a lot of time on a computer what can you do?

Some simple things from better posture – better designed chairs – standing desksergonomic keyboards and even better positioning of your computer screens can all provide a healthier set up for you to work.

Here is a cool picture from a recent MS commercial I recently saw during of all things a tennis match.  This is a guy – presumably a professional programmer working on the new Titanfall game has got a very cool set up – note the large monitor positioned perfectly in front of his line of site and that crazy ergonomic keyboard apparently mounted to the arms of an office chair . . . . I am betting this is not the set up you are working on at your office – but for $300-$400 bucks you could likely have something pretty darn close . . . .

Cool Ergonomic Keyboard Chair Here is a link to the video from MS if anyone is interested – it is a pitch for Microsoft’s new cloud computing platform – which is what the new Titanfall game will be hosted on.  http://youtu.be/etlT_6zhUCI

So – before we all end up hunchbacked and can’t move our hands – check out some more cool and healthy ways you could have your work area set up.

LifeHacker/Flickr Workspace Show and Tell  [link goes to Flickr.com]

Australian Government Article on Computer Related Health Issues [link goes to BetterHealth.vic.gov.au]

10 Ergonomic Workspace Upgrades [link goes to LifeHacker.com]

How to Set Up a Ergonomic Workspace [link goes to Cnet.com]

Cool Forum on Custom Keyboards and Input Devices [link goes to GeekHack.org]

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Jamey Grant

My name is Jamey Grant. I am an Asheville, North Carolina native and have worked the last 6+ years as a freelance data analytics programmer specializing in MySQL database management, .php, and Python. I have 7+ years of experience in the WordPress CMS and have authored three different MySQL based plugins designed to track various metrics for various private clients.

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