lmost every job carries with it certain threats to health. In some especially dangerous jobs the risks are obvious (think of firefighting or being a police officer). But even being an office worker has its own health risks. While these risks are not of a violent or immediate nature, anyone working an office job should be aware of them. More importantly, they should be aware of how to mitigate the risks and keep themselves in good health. Here are the six biggest risks to health of working at an office job.
Repetitive hand movements, such as typing, can cause carpal tunnel syndrome. Carpal tunnel syndrome is more than a little stiffness in your finger joints. It is marked by tingling, numbness, and weakness in the hands, and is caused by pressure on the median nerve that runs through the wrist. Avoid the condition by resting your hands more often and limiting time spent typing. When you are typing, keep your wrist straight, relaxed, and slightly below your hands.
Sitting in a chair all day will cause back pain if, like most people, you have poor posture. The lower spine is naturally designed to have a forward curve to it. But, slouching forward will reverse this curve and, if habitual, will result in significant pain and perhaps even spinal damage. Avoid lower back pain by correcting your posture: hold you shoulders high, and keep a forward curve to the lower spine. Putting a pillow or lumbar support product between your back and the chair can help, as can buying a supportive, ergonomic chair. Exercising to maintain a strong core is also a good idea.
Staring at a computer eight hours a day is bad for your eyes. Gaze at your monitor for long enough and your vision will become blurry; your eyes will be irritated and sensitive. Eyestrain can also cause painful headaches. Relieve the symptoms by increasing font sizes and turning down the brightness of your computer. The best solution, however, is taking regular breaks every few hours: a few minutes away from the computer will give your eyes time to recover.
Excess stress can make you unhappy, irritable, anxious, and even contribute to conditions like obesity and heart disease. Unfortunately, offices tend to be very stressful environments. Not only will you be busy with difficult, time-consuming responsibilities, but personal conflicts with bosses or coworkers can also be sources of stress. Alleviate tension in your life by maintaining a healthy work-life balance and keeping your workload at a level you can handle. Getting exercise and enough sleep, and having loved ones you can vent to will help as well.
Working in an office means being surrounded by other people all day. These conditions are ripe for the spread of illnesses. The common cold and -- more seriously -- the flu are the sicknesses most likely to be contracted at work. The diseases you can catch at an office job are unlikely to threaten your life, but can definitely make you miserable. Protect yourself by washing your hands regularly and avoiding contact with the infected -- in fact, encourage sick people to stay at home.
Perhaps the biggest health risk of having an office job is the sitting itself. A sedentary lifestyle is unnatural -- humans were not designed to stay seated for long periods on a regular basis. Doing so has been connected to a multitude of diseases, including heart disease, depression, diabetes, obesity, anxiety, and osteoporosis. Generally, a sedentary lifestyle has been linked to earlier mortality.
Protecting yourself from this health risk is exceptionally difficult, since to be an office worker is almost by definition to live a sedentary life. However, regular exercise in your free time can greatly decrease the dangers. At work, don't remain seated the entire day. Get up and move around at least every few hours, even if only for a few minutes. If possible, consider getting a standing desk.
An office job has its own share of dangers to health. These dangers are not of an immediate variety, but that doesn't mean you can ignore them. In fact, many of the risks are the sort that you will have to watch out for on a daily basis. Stay alert and keep a watch over your own behavior -- that way if you notice yourself slipping into unwise behavior (like sitting slouched over or staying seated at your desk all day) you can adjust and avoid suffering any harm. Luckily, a little care and attention should be enough to greatly mitigate the health risks of an office job.