Terabytes of data have been published on serious health consequences from overuse of gadgets. Long-term exposure to smartphones may lead to mild depression, memory loss or cancer. Gazing at a PC monitor for long causes dry eyes, headache or blurred vision. And you tend to get stiff joints or muscle pain for sitting too long. Do not worry, though. There are ways to minimise these health issues. Here we go.
Smartphone: Use speakerphones. If the office setting does not permit it, get headphones. Better still, use the landline. It is safe, and your calls won't drop.
Desk/workstation: Using gadgets here over long periods may cause repetitive strain injury or RSI, as per physiotherapists. "These are pains that you experience in your fingers, wrists, neck, shoulders or the lower back after sitting in one position. We can call them computer-related injuries," says Dr Sunny Kichloo, lead, physiotherapy and rehabilitation, at Nightingales Home Health Care. He has some simple solutions to overcome these. First, a few preventive measures starting with ergonomics.
Chair: The height of your chair should be optimum. An easy way to know this: Place the chair in front of you and the base of the chair, where you sit, has to be in line with your knee.
PC: On your desk, the upper border of your laptop or desktop monitor has to be in line with your eyes. If it is low, place a book under the monitor and adjust the height.
Landline: Place it close to where you sit and do not cradle the phone between your head and neck if you want to avoid neck and shoulder problems.
Sit Right: Being upright always helps in life. The rule also applies to your sitting posture. If the lower back needs support, put an extra padding. It could be a towel rolled between your back and the chair.
Try deskercise: You will get plenty of information online, starting from simple steps to stretching your neck, rotating your shoulders and exercising your lower back. You need to do them every two hours, for about five minutes.
20-20-20 rule: After every 20 minutes, look 20 ft away for 20 seconds. It helps move your gaze away from the glare of the monitor and saves your eyes.
Mini breaks: Get up and walk after every three hours or 30 minutes depending on how you feel. Go to the water dispenser. So, keeping a water bottle near you is not a good idea.
when tech takes its toll
You cannot sit erect for eight hours. But there is a school of thought that says there has to be a correct alignment between your bones and joints. What you need is a change of posture - a walk really - every half hour. Others say the spine must move at an inclination of 80-120 degrees while you are sitting. Another debate is around 'Text Neck', a phone/tech-induced ailment that can cause neck pain and muscle spasms. Then there is the smartphone and the debate around its harmful effects. "Multiple studies say that the use of smartphones should be minimised and people should be encouraged to use landlines," says Dr C.H. Mohana Vamsy, an oncologist and founder of Omega Hospitals in Hyderabad. He says long-term use of smartphones is now being associated with brain tumour and cancer of parotid or salivary gland. So, it is necessary to use tech tools in moderation.