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How To Make The Office Environment More Healthy

Doctorpedia Editorial Team Doctorpedia Editorial Team June 25, 2021
Medically reviewed by Susan Kerrigan, MD and Marianne Madsen

The average US full-time employee works about 8.5 hours a day, and about 84.2% of these employees work in some sort of office space. Many of these employees are sitting at a desk and computer during this time which can lead to all sorts of problems, from back pain to carpal tunnel syndrome. 

 

One of the first suggestions given to improve the situation is to get up! Anita Addlesberger, an OT and certified ergonomic specialist, recommends getting up and moving every half hour, whether that’s just stretching at your desk or taking a walk around the office. There are even some apps that you can install on your computer that can remind you to get up and do some exercise every hour or more often which can help you be more aware of how much time you’re spending in front of a monitor.

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Low Back Pain - Causes

Low Back Pain - Causes

In the past few years, standing desks have become hugely popular. Seen as the solution to the problems that come with sitting, there are many available versions that can range from inexpensive add-ons to your current desk or full adjustable desks. Although in some cases they can reduce back pain, there are still health issues that can develop when someone stands for too long. It’s recommended to arrange your desk ergonomically and to vary your positions throughout the day, switching from sitting to standing and back again.

 

So whether you’re sitting or standing, the problem can be how you have arranged your desk. Everything from the height and distance of your monitor to how you have positioned your arms and keyboard can make a difference in how your body will feel. There are products that can be bought that can improve your experience such as ergonomic chairs, footrests, ergonomic mice, and keyboards. But if the arrangement of your monitor, keyboard, and chair are incorrect as well as the way you sit, the products won’t help very much. There are several helpful guides online that will walk you through the different parts of your workspace to make sure you have them arranged correctly, from the height of your chair to the angle of your monitor.

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Back Pain - Treatment Options

Back Pain - Treatment Options

But as much as you should focus on your desk to make working a better environment, the actual environment of your office building can make a big difference. In a double-blind study, researchers examined how workers reacted to “green” versus “non-green” buildings. Green buildings are constructed to have better indoor air quality as well as being energy efficient. Researchers simulated the quality of air that would be in these types of buildings and then performed cognitive tests on the workers and found that the scores were 61% higher in green buildings. These buildings are also linked to improved health and wellness. Although it may not be a practical change that you can make in your office, it’s important to realize how much the environment can affect your wellbeing and cognitive abilities.

 

Considering how much of the day is spent at work, it’s important to make your environment as healthy and comfortable a place as possible. While some of these changes could involve a big investment into new products, many of these changes are simple adjustments to your current environment that can make a big difference.

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