Is Your Computer Killing You? - InformationWeek

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1/17/2006
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Is Your Computer Killing You?

Ten ways that the computer can hurt your body, mind, and the environment, and what you can do to minimize the damage.

2. Extra Weight
Desk jockeys beware. While a desk job might be the stuff blue-collar workers dream of, it's also a great way to pack on the pounds. The American Journal of Preventive Medicine reported in August, 2005, that a man who sits at a desk for six hours a day or more is more than twice as likely to be overweight than those with more active jobs.


How Computing Can Hurt You


 1.  Your Arms And Hands

 2.  Your Waistline

 3.  Your Shoulders

 4.  Your Eyes

 5.  Your Circulation

 6.  Your Back And Neck

 7.  Your Head

 8.  Your Sleep

 9.  Your Emotional Well-Being

 10.  Your Planet


That paunch packs a serious punch.

In case you've been trapped in a cave for the past 40 years, here's some news: Overweight people are at greater risk for heart disease, diabetes, stroke, hypertension, some cancers, and a litany of other health concerns. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports:

"During the past 20 years there has been a dramatic increase in obesity in the United States. In 1985 only a few states were participating in CDC's Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) and providing obesity data. In 1991, four states had obesity prevalence rates of 15-19 percent and no states had rates at or above 20 percent. In 2004, 7 states had obesity prevalence rates of 15-19 percent; 33 states had rates of 20-24 percent; and 9 states had rates more than 25 percent."


U.S. Obesity Map 2004, courtesy of the CDC

Your Best Defense: Move it. It can be as simple as wearing a pedometer and aiming for 10,000 steps a day. For those with serious weight control issues, the United States Department of Agriculture recommends an average daily amount of exercise equal to one and a half hours.

While that may seem exhausting, take heart. Everything you do counts toward that goal. Take the stairs, take a ten-minute walk during lunch, rake leaves, walk the dog. Keep a diary of your activity level for two weeks and adjust accordingly.

Dieting can aid in your goal to stay trim, but dieting without exercise is proving to be a short-term solution only.

3. Laptop-Induced Shoulder And Back Injuries
Laptops are the devil. They cause cramped finger positioning while keying, the pointer control options are awkward, their position on your lap can induce a crooked neck, and their portability means you're always on call. But did you know "Laptop Shoulder" may be the new "Blackberry Thumb"?

A laptop computer can weigh quite a bit on its own — anywhere from four to ten pounds. Add in the AC adaptor, several printed reports, a cell phone, a PDA, keys, business cards, etc. — and before you know it, your portable computer isn't so portable. Nevertheless, we sling them on our collective shoulders and take off where work demands.

That's bad news for your shoulder and back. Picture yourself in the airport security line: two hours with 20 pounds of pressure bearing down on your right shoulder. What you think may be tension is in fact an injured muscle.

And let's not forget the wrenching movements we make when slinging our laptop bags over our shoulders. We underestimate the weight and the risk.

Your Best Defense: Lift slowly and carefully when picking up your laptop. Consider a notebook backpack, which distributes the weight evenly between both shoulders, or invest in a rolling laptop carrier. Finally, when rolling, push your laptop (and your luggage) in front of you instead of dragging it behind. You're in better control that way and less likely to injure yourself.

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