Joel T. Fagsao
Any desk job especially those that need you to sit and work in front of your computer for long hours could be damaging to your health. In some countries it is required by law for those sitting in front of computer terminals to take a 15 minute break every hour. When you are engrossed in your work at the computer you would want to stay on and on. You often fail to take a break like standing up to stretch or do a few minutes of vigorous physical activity. I have been conscious about taking breaks at work-going out to take a walk or routing my printing activities to the farthest printer in the office network. This forces me to stand up and get my printed outputs.
This is a topic, fellow columnist, Dr. Penelope Domogo would be happy to see in print. I promised myself at the beginning of the year to keep tabs on my health- while still being able to work on the computer. Yes this is all about staying healthy in the workplace. A decade ago, health practitioners encouraged the application of ergonomics from keyboards to chairs. Ergonomics became a byword when office workers started complaining of wrist pain, neck and eye strain and even back pains. Still, despite the good intentions to incorporate better designed gadgets that put a premium on minimizing health risks, it requires will power to stand up and get away from the computer several times of the working day.
Now, if you are in a similar situation where desk jobs put your health at risk, it is time to take action. First, you have to consult your doctor and get that long needed physical check-up. Together with your physician, set a goal to good health -from having an exercise regimen to watching what you eat. Get a notebook and jot down what you eat for each day and the physical activities that you do. You can also opt to do the “keeping track” by registering on the www.mypyramidtracker.gov site. This is a site operated by the Department of Agriculture (U.S.) –Center for Nutrition Policy and Information. The website lets you keep a record of your daily food intake and physical activity. At day’s end when you input your food and physical activity data, you can have an analysis report. When I put in 10 minutes of physical activity the report marked it POOR. While it may appear stupid for me to have to confirm that a few minutes of physical activity is really bad, I just wanted to look at how the system works. The good thing is that it provides a really good analysis on you what eat and the physical activities that you do. Are you are eating too much of this or you need to eat more of your veggies? It is the analysis that makes the difference which is lacking if you just write things down on paper.
At the risk of getting more of your time to spend on the computer, anyway it will only take a few minutes each day to do the recording online. I believe it is still worth it. I have yet to fully see the benefits of keeping your health on track online but it can be something to start with. In the end it is all about discipline. It is a matter of planning your day to day activities and sticking to the schedule. You also take the time to assess how much time you are spending on time wasters on the computer such as participating in Farmville on Facebook or playing Solitaire. Next time you enter the office, don’t plunk onto your chair and immediately fire up your computer.
Join an early morning exercise club, encourage your workmates to break it up when there are deadlines to meet and learn to say no to a second serving of everything.