This article has been contributed by Kristeen Cherney.
Desk jobs are commonplace in a world that increasingly relies on computers and technology. For many, a desk is the office, especially if you freelance or telecommute.
The advantages of working on the computer are numerous, ranging from better time management to even setting your own hours, in some cases. As society becomes more computer dependent, it’s hard to deny the possible risk factors of a desk job.
Eyestrain and weight gain are among the most prevalent health concerns for desk workers, but this doesn’t mean you’re doomed to poor vision and an unhealthy weight for life. By making simple adjustments throughout the day, you can decrease the risk of work-related eyestrain and weight gain. You’ll find that addressing these issues will also improve your mentality and your quality of work.
Eyestrain causes more than tiredness of the eyes. When your eyes are strained, you might experience excessive tearing or dryness, pain, and even temporary vision changes. Using your eyes for a particular activity for a long period of time can cause such issues. In this regard, it’s easy to see how a desk job can significantly increase your risk for work-related eyestrain. The Mayo Clinic calls computer screen-related eyestrain “computer vision syndrome.” If you already have vision problems, then you may be more susceptible to eyestrain from computer use.
Computers are certainly not going away, and they are certainly essential for freelancers. By being mindful of your eyes today, you can help prevent straining after long-term computer work. First, you should learn to take frequent eye breaks. The Mayo Clinic recommends a “20-20-20” rule, which consists of looking at an object for 20 seconds that is 20 feet away every 20 minutes during computer time. You can also blink frequently to give your weary eyes a break. While you can’t get away from the computer, you can help reduce its effects on the eyes by adjusting the brightness of the screen.
Eyestrain doesn’t ruin your vision, but it can certainly disrupt your workflow. It’s important to prevent vision issues so you don’t waste any more time than needed.
Inevitable Weight Gain
It’s true that not everyone who works at a desk gains weight. But unless you take mindful steps to maintain your weight during working hours, then gaining weight is an inevitable side effect. In fact, weight gain is likely the most common complaint of desk workers. Weight gain is brought on by the following factors:
- decreased physical activity from sitting all day
- snacking at your desk
- increased stress at work
- making poor meal choices out of time constraints
Everyone constantly looks for a magical way to lose weight, but the formula is really simple: you must burn more energy than you take in. Moving less from having a desk job makes weight gain likely because you don’t burn as much energy as other jobs. At the same time, you may be eating the same amount of calories, or perhaps even more from poor food choices.
The following tips can help you prevent desk-related weight gain, and perhaps even lose the pounds you’ve already put on:
Take a break every 30 minutes.
You don’t necessarily have to leave your office space to accomplish increased movement! Simply get out of your chair and stretch out to increase the flow of energy throughout your body. March in place for a few minutes to wake up and burn some calories.
Move every chance you get.
For many, it’s challenging to exercise while typing and completing other computer work. Instead, shift your focus to work in some movement during other activities. Step in place when making phone calls, and try walking around the office when reading memos. Take a brisk walk after lunch as well as during any other breaks.
Make over your eating habits.
A lack of movement in an office job impacts your body weight, but your eating habits can also contribute to weight gain.
You can prevent this risk by:
- eating smaller meals
- avoiding fast food
- cutting down on restaurant lunches
- drinking more water
- cutting out soda and other sugary foods
- eating frequent mini-meals instead of starving before lunch and dinner
When Work Isn’t the Issue
Lifestyle adjustments take time, so it’s important that you maintain patience as you work towards bettering your sight and body mass. Overtime, many people experience improvements. Still, some workers continue to struggle with eyestrain and weight maintenance despite making significant changes. If you fall into the latter category, it may be time to see a doctor to rule out any possible medical issues. You certainly can’t give up your job, but you should never give up on your health, either.
- Gaining Weight at Work? You’re Not Alone. (2013, May 31).
- Mayo Clinic Staff. (2012, September 19). Eye Strain.
Author Bio: Kristeen Cherney is a freelance health and lifestyle writer who also has a certificate in nutrition. Her work has been published on numerous health-related websites. Previously, she worked as a communications and marketing professional.