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Your computer may be killing you. That sounds like hyperbole but the sad truth is that many people are losing years off of their lives due to improper computer usage. Eye damage, spinal issues, muscle atrophy, and weight gain are just some of the problems that may affect you, if not now, then later down the road. Concerned yet?
Rest assured that it’s possible to mitigate these effects. All that’s required of you is a small bit of effort – just a few minutes every day. Here are some tools to help you out and make it even easier.
Improve Your Posture
A standing desk is perhaps one of the best investments you can make when it comes to preventing computer-induced health deterioration. There’s no denying that a sedentary lifestyle can cause problems, which means sitting is bad for you if all you do is sit at a computer day in and day out.
That’s why so many of us here at MakeUseOf advocate the standing desk. By standing, you’re forced to use your leg muscles and you’re less likely to have bad posture. Plus, you’re bound to get tired of standing on your feet, which is a natural reminder to walk away from the computer and take breaks.
If you think you’d benefit from one, check out these standing desk recommendations. Just be sure to avoid making these standing desk mistakes, otherwise you’ll just be opening yourself up to a different set of problems.
Don’t feel bad if you cannot make the leap to a standing desk just yet. Meanwhile, do work on your sitting posture.
Reduce Eye Strain
F.lux [Windows, Mac Linux] is a MUST HAVE program on any and all computers. No exceptions. It is the ultimate tool for mitigating eye strain, which is a bigger concern than most people realize and can cause computer fatigue. After long periods of computer use, do you ever get:
- Dry, itchy eyes
- Teary, watery eyes
- Eye twitches or spasms
- Double vision
If so, you’re likely straining your eyes. One of the main causes of computer-related eye strain is a monitor that’s too bright with respect to ambient lighting. You may need a bright monitor when the sun is out, but that same brightness is too much when night comes around.
F.lux automatically adjusts the color temperature of your monitor according to the time of day. During the day, the monitor is bright. During the night, it dims and turns a slight shade of orange, which is better for your eyes. Because of this, F.lux can help you sleep better. It works and I highly recommend it no matter who you are.
Set Reminders For Taking Breaks
The opposite of “sedentary” is “active,” which means you need to take regular computer breaks and do something that requires motion, such as walking around, exercising, etc. For many people, the issue isn’t so much wanting to take breaks but remembering to take breaks. If that’s you, you’re in luck.
Big Stretch Reminder [Windows] is a non-intrusive program that sits in the background and periodically reminds you that it’s time to take a break. You can customize the frequency and length of said breaks as well as the message that appears.
If you need a bit more flexibility, you might want to try Breaker instead.
Don’t Forget To Relax!
Don’t let stress get to you. Computers can make you want to tear out your hair and run away screaming, but they can also help you to relax and regain perspective. Life is busy and life is frantic, which is why you should take time out of your day to sit back and do nothing, even if it’s just for a few minutes.
Do Nothing For 2 Minutes is a challenge. Can you really sit still for 2 minutes without touching the keyboard or mouse? You might be surprised to find out just how difficult this test is. If you really can’t pass it, it might be a good indicator that you suffer from Internet addiction.
Work Out & Exercise At The Computer
Ultimately, if you want to be healthy, you need to live healthy. We’ve discussed ways to make computer use less unhealthy, but the fact remains that prolonged computer use is inherently bad for your health over the long run. If you want to change that, you need to start cutting out the unhealthy bits.
There’s no better way to kick your body into shape than by exercising. If prolonged computer use is unavoidable for you (e.g. you work a desk job for 8 hours a day), then exercise at your desk whenever you can. But for best results, don’t neglect real exercise. Get started with these YouTube workout channels for at-home workouts and routines.
Is your health suffering from poor computer habits? Let us know if these work for you. If you were once unhealthy and have turned your life around, what sort of tips, tricks, and tools did you use to change up your computer routine? Share with us in the comments!