Exercise. A balanced diet. Regular medical check-ups. These words are often thrown around when discourses regarding physical illnesses are discussed about on various platforms. While advice as such might seem repetitive to many, they are indeed true to a great extent. Statistics reveal that Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), kill 41 million people each year, which is equivalent to 71% of all deaths globally.
To elaborate further, NCDs are diseases that are not transmissible directly from one person to another such as cardiovascular diseases, kidney diseases and reproductive issues. The causes of NCDs vary from one individual to another — genetics, a sedentary lifestyle or even exposure to radiation. To make matters more interesting, it could also be observed that remote working could lead to NCDs.
A whole day of sitting in front of one’s laptop, with the screen brightness at 100%, topped off with bad desk manners, such as slouching and a close eye-to-screen proximity could cause so much of harm to one’s body and although unhealthy work demands could prevent a person from taking care of his or her health, there are relatively easy ways to impede the potential occurrence of a specific health issue. So, here are 5 physical health issues that might occur due to remote working and how to prevent them from happening.
1) Posture Related Injuries
Ever felt a tingling sensation on your back or neck after working on a project for countless hours, without leaving your desk? Well, if one faces a situation as such, it is an inevitable fact that he or she is facing a computer-related injury or in other relatable terms, posture-related injuries. The causes for these injuries would be due to bad practices while using your trusted devices such as a poor workstation design, slouching and sitting for long periods of time.
While it might be tempting to deal with these issues at a later time, after striking out everything from your to-do list, by consuming paracetamol and using heat pads, a prolonged occurrence of posture-related injuries could lead to more severe health dilemmas affecting the backbone and sometimes, the spinal cord. The science behind this, is that despite the fact that sitting requires less muscular effort in comparison to standing, there’s a slight probability that physical fatigue could occur hence, resulting in the affected individual to hold parts of his or her body steady for long periods of time.
As a direct consequence, this would reduce circulation of blood to the individual’s muscles, bones, tendons and ligaments leading to stiffness and pain. In the case of using a work desk with a poor design, the long hours of keeping the individual in a steady position could exert a huge stress on the person’s muscles and joints.
What is the solution? When investing in a good equipment and furniture for your remote workspace set-up, it’s wise to consider buying an adjustable desk specifically designed for computer-usage. At times where you’ve noticed that you’ve sat for too long, you could adjust the table to accommodate finishing up your work while standing.
Besides that, another useful work tool would be an ergonomic chair which would enable your hands and wrists to be in a more natural position while typing. A 15-minutes short break after every 2 hours of work could be implemented during your working hours too. However, it shouldn’t be occupied with stuffing mouthfuls of potato chips into your mouth. Instead, the time should be utilized by doing light stretching exercises and short walks around the house.
Defined by the World Health Organization, as an abnormal or excessive far accumulation that presents a risk to health, obesity is a medical problem that increases the risk of other diseases and health problems such as cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure and certain type of cancers. Well, when it comes to remote working where there’s a high likelihood that the remote worker would stay glued to his or her screen for a long duration of time, the risk of getting obesity is at an all-time high.
Hours of sitting and the lack of body movements topped off with heavy meals for breakfast, lunch as well as dinner and snacks stashed in the corner of your workspace to be consumed regularly, heavily contributes to this health issue. This is mainly caused by the lack of calories burnt.
What is the solution? With the emergence of innovative tools and ways to amp up your remote working experience, a tip that a remote worker could use to energize himself or herself and get the job done as well would be by positioning your work surface above a treadmill with the computer screen and keyboard on a stand or a specialized treadmill-ready vertical desk. There wouldn’t be any cons to this method as you’ll be constantly on the go and still meet the deadlines for your tasks.
3) Poor Eyesight
Well, this health issue is a common one these days. With the huge shift to virtual spaces, it seems as though almost everyone and anyone are wearing glasses to correct their deteriorating eyesight. Prolonged screen time isn’t a direct contributing factor to poor eyesight however, the blue light emitted from your trusted digital devices, would reach the inner lining of the retina and damage light-sensitive cells found there.
Despite the fact that children are more susceptible to face retina damage in comparison to adults, remote workers should indeed take precautionary measures to protect their eyesight from eye fatigue, dry and irritated eyes, loss of focus flexibility and nearsightedness. But here’s some good news, contrary to popular belief, prolonged screen time does not cause permanent eye damage and blindness. So, when it comes to the topic of poor eyesight, you’d have one less problem to worry about now.
What is the solution? Since the main culprit of poor eyesight is the blue light emitted from the devices, it’s important to adjust the lighting of your screen. This could be done by making sure that your screen isn’t brighter than the surrounding light. Scientifically, by doing this, your eyes won’t have to work harder to see. Adjusting the room lighting is equivalently essential to prevent eye strain.
Next, you could also try to keep your eyes moist all the time by using artificial tears to lubricate their eyes when it’s dry and itchy. To prevent further dryness of the eyes, try switching off the air conditioning or setting a timer for 30 minutes because the existence of air conditioning or heating systems would only aggravate the occurrence of dry eyes.
4) Sleeping problems
The brain could indeed be tricked in different ways and this is the basis of the sleeping problems caused by the prolonged screen time a remote worker has in a day. The artificial lighting given off from your device’s screen would actually trick the brain and suppress the release of melatonin, the substance in your body that assists in your sleeping pattern. The body’s biological clock would also be altered to a great extent too.
As a direct consequence, a delay in the production of melatonin leads to sleeping problems such as insomnia where the individual has trouble falling asleep and hypersomnia where the individual has inability to stay awake and alert during the day despite having more than an adequate amount of sleep.
What is the solution? Well, the best way to prevent a remote employee from succumbing to insomnia and hypersomnia is by refraining themselves from using a computer or any electronic device before going to bed. This limits their exposure to the screen’s light and eventually, leads to a better sleep pattern. Besides that, if you’re the type of remote employee who constantly needs something to keep yourself occupied, try reading a book for some non-electronic fun.
5) Cardiovascular diseases
It’s an inevitable fact that remote working involves doing your work while sitting, for the most part, unless you decide to incorporate some form of physical activity in between work slots. With obesity being a physical health issues caused by remote working, it’s fair enough to also include cardiovascular issues in this list too.
Cardiovascular disease (CVD), is a term for conditions affecting the heart or blood vessels. It’s often times associated with a build-up of fatty deposits inside the arteries and an increased risk of blood clots. Examples of prominent CVDs include coronary heart disease, strokes and aortic diseases. Here’s some bad news for our fellow remote workers regarding the risk of getting CVDs — a recent study shows that hours spent facing your devices’ screens might have an ability to hurt the heart.
If you’re the type of worker who’d only leave your workstation to get some snacks and to have toilet breaks, then, it is a wise move to rethink your lifestyle. CVDs could affect remote workers mainly because of the lack of movements and a high proportion of remote workers resorting to unhealthy snacking.
What is the solution? Let’s talk about your food intake here. A remote worker that might feel like it’s a sin to take breaks in between work time for a good walk outside, is usually more likely to succumb to CVDs. Well, these remote workers should definitely start moving about more but as a supplementary solution, they should also learn to eat moderately and include healthy food into their diets. The general rule is to not snack unhealthily. Yes, that means no potato chips, sweets and chocolate. Instead, find healthy alternatives such as kale chips, fruit juice and a good ol’ salad.
Here is our article on tips on eating healthy while working remotely.
In short, in a world where everything is constantly shifting according to the status quo, it is important to maintain a healthy biological system in order to continue functioning efficiently. The phrase “health is wealth” is no joke. Without a healthy body, you would not be able to work at all, remotely or not. Working remotely is indeed stressful and time consuming, but do not get carried away with work until your health gets negatively impacted.