An article in Forbes.com with an accompanying slideshow titled “9 Easy Ways to Stay Healthy” really impressed me. It is really about ergonomics–making your body work for you by working in harmony with it instead of fighting against it. The main points: be comfortable, get enough rest, and eat what you body needs. Why is this so hard? I think partially because we want to act like machines instead of humans. We want to push ourselves to the limits until we are broken. Why? Let’s let machines do that so we don’t have to…isn’t that supposed to be the point of technology? If technology doesn’t make our lives better, (in a physical and emotional sense, not a material one) then what is the point?
Because the slideshow is not very user friendly (the page refreshes for each new slide), I reprinted it here. The artwork by Jeff Szuc is also really cool.
How you sit at work can have a big impact on your body. Peter Budnick, Ph.D., founder and president of Ergoweb, says your hands and eyes drive posture, since they dictate where you place your computer. So, make sure your keyboard, mouse and chair face your monitor, with the keyboard and mouse level and within easy reach. He suggests experimenting to find a good screen viewing distance and adjusting the text size to match your vision. Also, avoid using bifocals while at the computer, so you’re not tilting your head to see.
Get The Right Support
The wrong size bra can make for more than an awkward silhouette–it can be a real pain in the neck. An ill-fitting bra can cause rounding of the shoulders and slouching, and make the chin jut out, says Heidi Prather, DO, associate professor in physical medicine and rehabilitation at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Some women never get a proper fitting; others don’t realize that their bodies have changed. Fran Musante, a fit expert for Maidenform, recommends getting a new fitting at least once a year.
The best thing you can do to take a load off of your feet is wear shoes that fit properly. Shop for shoes in the afternoon, when your feet are usually a little larger, and only buy shoes that feel good from the start–they shouldn’t need to be broken in. Arnold Ravick, a podiatrist and spokesperson for the American Podiatric Medical Association, recommends switching shoes each day to give sore spots a chance to heal. Women should vary heel heights day to day, too.
You can protect your hearing by spending just a few dollars–on earplugs. Researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health recently found that regular exposure to noise levels in the New York City transit system can over time lead to hearing loss. Covering your ears isn’t enough, says Robyn Gershon, DrPH, a professor at the school and the study’s lead author. And plugging your ears with your iPod headphones and turning the volume up high is even worse, because you’re exposed to two noise sources at once.
Commute More Comfortably
To ease the strain of sitting in the car, spend a few moments each time you get in to make the seat comfortable. Hint: The seat should not place any pressure on your thighs. Also, try to change your position every 20 minutes while driving, says Alan Hedge, Ph.D., a professor of ergonomics at Cornell University. If no matter what you do you can’t get comfortable, consider switching cars. “Don’t adapt to products you get,” Hedge says. “Make sure the car fits you.”
The best thing people can do the help their bodies, diet-wise, is obvious–eat more fruits and vegetables. New research shows that just one extra serving of each per day can reduce the risk of heart disease. Cynthia Sass, registered dietician and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, suggests drinking 100% fruit juice, mixing up the flavor week to week to get different nutrients, and sneaking in a vegetable with lunch and salad with dinner.
Care For Hair
If you aren’t getting enough protein, neither is your hair, which is one reason it can fall out or have structural problems. David Kingsley, Ph.D., founder and owner of hair and scalp specialists the British Science Corporation, recommends nurturing your hair by eating five to six ounces of protein a day.
Earn A Day Off
Recovery time is a key part of a good exercise program, says Conrad Earnest, Ph.D., vice president of the Center for Human Performance and Nutrition Research at the Dallas-based Cooper Institute. Failing to give your body a rest could result in injury. “If you’re an avid exerciser, it’s just absolutely silly not to take rest days,” he says. Rest can include exercising at a lighter intensity or trying another mode. If you’re a runner, spend a day on the bike or swim. It also could mean putting your feet up and reading a book.
Don’t let your desire to get off the plane cause six to eight weeks of back pain. Dr. Leon Benson, associate professor of clinical orthopaedic surgery at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, urges travelers to wait until they’re next to the overhead compartment to grab their bags. Stand with your feet spread apart and pointed in the direction you’re headed, and try not to bend or twist your waist as you pull down luggage. Let your leg muscles do the work. When packing, place heavier items in the middle of the bag to keep its weight balanced.