Archive for January, 2010

Some Office Ergonomics

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

Many of us use a computer for a large part of our day. As the rising number of computer-related injuries and illnesses show, several factors may lead us straight from the workplace to the hospital. Among this are poor workplace design and layout, incorrect chair height, inadequate equipment placement, and damaging posture. Luckily for us, the applied science of ergonomics is developing side by side with many of our physical concerns.

Ergonomics is the study of design and arrangement of things people use, as in the workplace, to ensure an optimal relationship of efficiency, safety and comfort between work equipment and worker. Here are ergonomic factors to consider when setting up or adjusting workspace.

Your chair

The ideal swivel chair should have five feet. If used on carpet, it should be fitted with casters. On a smooth surface, it should have glides (flattened, smooth sliders fitted to the chair’s feet to protect the floor surface and allow easy movements.

Your monitor

The monitor should be roughly an arm’s length away from you. The top of the screen should be at eye level or just below so that you are able to look down slightly at your work.

Remember that eye muscles can become tired when you do nonstop close work. Rest your eyes every 10 minutes or so by looking away into the distance for at least 10 seconds at a time.

Your keyboard

When using the keyboard, your forearms should be close to horizontal and your wrists straight. Your hands should not be bent up, down or to either side in relation to your forearms. Your elbows should be close to your body. Align the keyboard with the monitor so you don’t have to twist or rotate to use it.

Your mouse

A mouse that fits the size of your hand is comfortable to work with. When you use the mouse, your wrist should be in natural and comfortable position, with minimal bend in any direction at the wrist. Your fingers should be able to rest on the push buttons between actions. It is good to position the mouse on the desk so that the weight of your arm is supported by the desk.

Posture, movement and stretching

Change your posture frequently to minimize fatigue. It’s a good idea to take short, frequent breaks from computer work while you carry out your other tasks for the day. This encourages physical movement and use of different muscle groups.

Brain Health

Friday, January 1st, 2010

Whenever we study and learn, several things happen in our brain: new cells generate, new connections are created between cells, and existing connections between certain cells are strengthened or removed. Studies show that stimulating environment and the presence of beta-endorphin (the good mood hormone) lead to good cell growth in our brains. The Neurological Foundation of New Zealand says these factors affect brain health:

Regular physical exercise. This protects the brain and the way it processes information. Exercise boosts levels of brain-protective chemicals and reduces stress.

Adequate sleep. A good night’s sleep recharges the brain and allows the body to rest and heal. Our brain consolidates memories while we sleep. Inadequate sleep affects the way our brain cells function and can increase the risk of stroke and depression. About seven to nine hours of sleep a night is ideal.

Balanced diet. Your diet should be low in cholesterol and saturated fat. Studies show that foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids (e.g., fish) are good for the brain.

Social connections. Friendships and social networks are important as we age. Good mood hormones help us create new brain cells and keep them healthy.

Mental workout. Use it or lose it! Keeping the brain active and challenged increases its vitality, generates new brain cells, and bolsters connections and reserves.