Technology advancements improve our workplace productivity, but may have unintended negative consequences on our bodies. Health hazards of the office are often hidden and surprising, yet once identified - hi-tech solutions are quickly developed in response. Here are eight innovative technologies to improve your health in the office.
8. Video Games Relieve Stress
Work is always stressful, but for some, this stress can be dangerous. One-sixth of workers report that workplace anger has led to property damage. Another 2 to 3 percent of U.S. workers (about 3 million people) have admitted to pushing, slapping or hitting someone at work. Twenty-two percent of U.S. workers report being driven to tears because of workplace stress (Source).
Video games may help relieve stress and prepare individuals for work. One study suggests that workplace playfulness improved communication, creativity, problem solving and team building. Video game play-time should be kept to 10 - 15 minutes to maximize health benefits. Studies also suggest that particular video games may also help children concentrate.
7. Arm Rested Mousepad Improves Posture
Repetitive motions like typing and clicking can cause injury or pain and if this becomes tingling, numbness, itching or even sharp pain - this could be carpal tunnel syndrome. In addition, leaning forward to reach your mouse and keyboard can strain your back.
A mousepad is now available with an armrest, allowing you to sit back and not lean forward – to help maintain better posture. One source says that this specialized arm-rest mousepad may help prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Thoracic Outlet Syndrome and other Repetitive Stress Injuries while releasing tension in the neck and upper back.
6. Computer Screen Advancements for Eyestrain
Computer Vision Syndrome (a.k.a. computer eyestrain) involves symptoms of burning, dry and strained eyes, headache, neck ache and blurred vision. It’s caused by overuse or misuse of computer monitors, bad lighting and other environmental factors. Repeated physical discomfort due to one or more of these symptoms cuts your productivity sharply over time.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends trying a different monitor. A wide variety of monitors with distinctive visual experiences are available to choose from including CRT monitors, flat-screen, wide screen, high definition, LCD and screens in matte and glossy finishes.
5. Antibacterial Keyboard Defends Against Germs
Beware: your desk may be 400 times dirtier than your toilet (Source). Eating at one’s desk is the leading cause of bacteria because breadcrumbs and other food remnants get in between keyboard keys, attracting rats and leading to germ exposure.
To combat germs, use antibacterial wipes to wipe down your work-station daily. Also, check out this state-of-the-art silicone portable antibacterial keyboard. The keyboard’s light-weight flexible design makes it easy to carry anywhere.
4. Track Lifestyle Habits with Fitbit
When busy at work, exercise and sleep can get squeezed – consciously or subconsciously. Yet lack of exercise and sleep will hurt your daytime productivity. To ensure that you are maintaining healthy lifestyle routines, check out the upcoming Fitbit product, Flex is a wireless activity and sleep wristband coming out in Spring 2013.
3. Touch Screen Products/Tablets Replacing Desktop Computers
Repetitive typing and clicking cause Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and other Repetitive Stress Injuries. Sitting in one place for long periods of time causes back pain.
In some work setting, touch screen tablets are replacing desktop computers - reducing typing and increasing flexibilty to move around the work space. Microsoft's upcoming Surface Pro perhaps marks the next generation in PC and tablet technology - promising to be both a touch-screen tablet and a PC running software like Photoshop, Microsoft Office and iTunes.
2. Smart Pens for Creativity
Starring at a blank computer screen can cause writer’s block and stunt creativity. Smart Pens like Livescribe allow you to write on paper while your words are being transcribed onto your computer. In addition, Livescribe pens record audio so whether you can’t make our your handwriting or got sleepy during an important meeting, you can re-trace over the spot in your notes to listen to the audio-playback from this exact moment.
Wacome’s Inkling is an novel tool for artists and designers who like to draw on regular paper – the Inkling captures a digital likeness of your work while you sketch with its ballpoint tip on any sketchbook or standard piece of paper.
1. Upright Desks Increase Movement and Reduce Major Health Risks
Hunched over a computer all day? While putting in solid hours of hard work, you may also be putting your health at risk. On average, people are sitting for nine or 10 hours a day – at work, in commute and at home (Source).
Without regular movement, sitting can lead to back pain, which is a major cause of missed work for adults of all ages (according to the Georgetown University Center on an Aging Society). Sitting tightens the hip flexors, the muscles than help pull your legs toward your body (according to the Yoga Journal). Tight hip flexors contribute to back pain by forcing the pelvis to tilt forward, compressing the back.
Even scarier, research shows that just one hour or more of sitting causes the enzymes that burn fat in the body to slow down production by up to 90 percent. Extended sitting also slows our metabolism of glucose and lowers our levels of good (HDL) cholesterol in the blood – major risk factors for heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.
In response, standing desks are gaining popularity in some offices, including Wired Magazine headquarters with executive editor, Thomas Goetz and other staff members using the desks. A wide variety of styles and price ranges are now available on the market.
Interestingly, standing at work isn’t actually “new” but rather a return to old ways. In the nineteenth and twentieth century, office workers such as clerks, accountants and managers, stood while working. Sitting was considered slacking. In fact, many intellectual leaders have been known to stand while working – including Leonardo da Vinci, Ben Franklin, Winston Churchill, Vladimir Nabokov and Philip Roth.
Treadmill desks take things a step farther. By walking very slowly on the treadmill while working, you can incorporate physical activity into your busy schedule and lower your heart rate considerably.
In conclusion, technology may sometimes negatively impact our workplace health, but technology may also be part of the solution.
Post by Julie Flygare, a leading health advocate and writer.