Do you have Healthy Computing habits?
                                           How to be comfortable at your computer 


       Healthy Computing

Your computer workstation could be placing your health at risk

What's so difficult or unhealthy about setting up a computer, putting a chair in front of the monitor and starting to use it? To do this properly and experience long term comfortable, enjoyable, and healthy computing really does require a few rather important considerations regarding your computer work station.

Although most of us don't spend 8 hours a day at our computers, some of us do spend quite long hours pursuing our interests, reading and sending email, and a variety of other fun
things.

Your workstation consists of a computer, monitor, keyboard, pointing device and a desk and chair, with a variety on other devices of your choice that support your computing activities.

The conditions of your work area - the space where you use your workstation - play an important role in the degree of success or pleasure you receive from your computing activities.
They also impact your physical comfort and risks to your health.

Working long hours at a stretch could increase your risk of physical discomfort or even lead to disabling conditions. But it doesn't need to.

Something as basic as proper working posture can affect not only your comfort, but also your health and well-being. Improper working conditions can lead to pain and discomfort in the hands, wrists, elbows, shoulders and neck. The problems may vary from aches to pain, burning, numbness or tingling and be more or less severe or uncomfortable among people of different age groups, with different physical and medical conditions, etc..

Body Position - yours

The comfort goal is to be able to work in a neutral body position with a natural alignment of all your joints from head to toes. (The emphasis is on 'natural' - not forced or twisted positioning).

To do that, be sure your shoulders are at ease with upper arms hanging normally at the sides of your body. Keep your elbows close to your body and bent between 90 and 110 degrees. Support your feet on a footrest or relax them on the floor. Your chair should support your back fully with a firm hold on the lumbosacral area.

Monitors

Position you monitor at a right angle to windows to reduce glare. Place it in front of you and at least 20 inches away with the the top line of the screen at or below your eye level to avoid any kind of strain to your neck and eyes. Rest your eyes every so often by focusing on objects that are at a considerable distance from your seat, like a painting on the wall around 20 feet away

Viewing Time

If the image that you view on the screen is of poor quality, your eyes have to strain more to view it properly. Straining like this for any long period of time increases the risk of serious eye problems. If it's difficult seeing small characters, check the glare, monitor resolution, or your eyes. You may need glasses (bifocals can be a problem). It might be necessary to replace the monitor if all images and text are of poor quality, or it could be just a poor image file or a dirty monitor screen. If you have finger prints or a lot of dust on your screen, be sure to review the monitor manufacturer's instructions for safe cleaning practices. CRT and flat screen LCD monitors may require different cleaning methods.

Keyboards

Place your keyboard directly in front of you and slightly lower than your elbows. With your elbows positioned close to your body and your shoulders in a relaxed position, locate it so that your wrists are straight and in-line with your forearms. If used properly, wrist/palm supports can reduce muscle activity while working on the computer and help attain a neutral wrist angle. Wrists should be generally straight when using your keyboard and mouse or trackball.

Improper lighting can lead to eyestrain.  Poor posture, poorly located monitors, keyboards and pointing devices increase the stress on muscles in your neck, hands, shoulders, back, even the risk of Carpal Tunnel syndrome problems with your wrists.

Working on major projects, becoming deeply involved in exciting and challenging games, surfing through interesting websites, and other exciting activities can easily cause you to lose track of time. You might have to train yourself to become aware of long, uninterrupted computing sessions.

Try to take a five minute break now and then. Change your position occasionally. Do a few exercises or take a short walk. These are great stress relievers that can minimize tiredness and discomfort and contribute to more healthy computing pleasures.

However, if you experience recurrent, persistent or worsening discomfort, especially if the discomfort includes pain, numbness or weakness, medical professionals recommend that you contact your physician for advice as soon as you can.

The earlier a problem is correctly diagnosed and treated, the easier it is to take care of and the less chance there is that it will progress to a disabling condition.
    
                                   
                                                                               ... Richard Rossbauer

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Richard started his "Firewalls and Virus Protection" website and "Security Alert News Reporter" to help everyday Internet users navigate safely through the Cyber Space that has become a 'Cyber Jungle', loaded with ambushes and booby traps. He promotes his "Computer Security Awareness Campaign" thru his website at http://www.firewalls-and-virus-protection.com
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