As security professionals, we spend the majority of our working day, and after hours, sitting in front of the computer. Unfortunately, that can have serious side effects and negative consequences such as cardiovascular disease and vision degeneration. The science behind reducing the negative effects of sitting in front of a computer all day is called “ergonomics”.
The more formal definition of ergonomics from Merriam Webster is:
“an applied science concerned with designing and arranging things people use so that the people and things interact most efficiently and safely”.
As someone who values health and fitness I have applied “hacker ergonomics” to my daily work routine. The results have been outstanding: I am able to keep off excess weight, maintain consistent focus and have high levels of energy.
The point of this blog it is to let any security professional know that they can incorporate a healthy set of habits into their “unsafe” environment.
On average, employees that work with computers sit between 7 - 15 hours a day (Source: New York Times). Extended periods of sitting are linked to higher rates of obesity, Type 2 Diabetes, other metabolic disorders and cardiovascular disease.
“Sitting” has been dubbed the “new smoking” by Forbes Magazine due to its negative health implications. Scientists believe we must stand more during the day. The best way to successfully achieve this is through “incorporated standing”, the technique of naturally building standing, pacing, and other forms of movement into your day. A standing desk is one of the simplest ways to incorporate standing throughout the day. The proper ergonomics for a standing desk are to keep strong posture by having your head, torso, and legs in a vertical line; shoulders back. It is also important to keep your wrists at the same height or slightly below your elbows.
In the same way that too much sitting is detrimental to your long term health, so too is standing. It is important to transition between sitting and standing throughout the day.
Digital Eye Strain
Researchers believe Digital Eye Strain, or Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS), is very common and affects between 50%-90% of Americans (Source: American Optometric Association). It affects individuals who stare at a computer screen for more than three hours per day. Its side effects include headaches, blurred vision, dry eyes, neck pain and shoulder pain.
Naturally throughout the day we change focus, revert between long distance and short distance, and process different levels and types of light. When we are focused on the same flat computer screen for a long period of time, the natural discrepancy of visual environment vanishes.
To reduce the side-effects of Digital Eye Strain I recommend eyewear that have a special coating that protects from harmful blue rays emitted from digital screens. Ultimately these glasses improve clarity and reduce artificial eye strain. That means that at the end of the day I am not bombarded with headaches or eye fatigue; and can ultimately put 100% of my focus and energy into the objective at hand.
There is no doubt that as an individual you can make the choice to improve your work environment and form your own healthy habits and routines. Good Luck in improving your efficiency and health! Take a stand for “hacker ergonomics”!
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