How to stay healthy while working at a computer?

By | November 24, 2020

Do you care about your health?

For me personally, the ability to freely organize my working hours became the main pros when I decided to leave the office and join freelancers. Over the years with the company, I have achieved many goals that were interesting to me, paying for it with my vision, posture and wasted time. The main lesson I learned from this was that the success achieved due to impaired health is not worth the effort spent on it. After taking most of my work home, I set myself the task of organizing the time spent at the computer so as to reduce its health impact to a minimum.

Which turned out to be difficult. In this article I will tell you about my way of organizing a “correct” working day, what should be done for this, and where are the rakes that should not be stepped on. The topic “computer and health” has already been raised several times on Habré, so I conceived this post as an article that can be bookmarked and used as a “guide to action.”

Why is this needed?

First of all, it is necessary for ourselves. It would be very naive to think that you can sit in front of the monitor as long as you want with impunity for your health. For everything, sooner or later, you have to pay. First of all, vision suffers. Health is our main value, so one day you wake up and realize that you definitely need to preserve it, and not for another three-day office spent without sleep and rest (“after all, the customer is in a hurry!”), But for your family and children. It’s sobering. I think there are only two cases when the health issue may not be important to you. First, you are developing something so great that you are ready to sacrifice yourself (important note: electronic banking systems and Internet media are not included in the category of “great”), second, you are the Terminator. OK, if you’re a Terminator, there really isn’t much to worry about, but otherwise it’s worth taking care of yourself.

It is also needed for your projects. The human body is designed in such a way that short distances are better for it than long ones, and the mode of work, in which the main occupation is interrupted by “pauses” of rest, turns out to be more effective. Simply put, by working intermittently, you are able to do more than working “tirelessly”, but with a long rest after.

Each of us is familiar with the situation when, temporarily distracted from the project, you return to it again and easily do what you were going to spend a lot of time on. Thoughts appear better “with a fresh mind”, and something similar happens at all physiological levels. Of course, this approach requires self-organization skills, and I will definitely write about them later. I will also make a reservation: all the tips will apply to your home computer (home office), since it is the easiest way to organize something at home.

So, enough talk, we get started!

My table is my fortress

First of all, let’s take care of the lighting. Better if it is artificial. Sunlight is good, of course, but it is very fickle and gives glare; therefore, the ideal room would be a spacious, bright room, where the computer is located far from the window. If this is not possible, try experimenting and choose a suitable place yourself; but remember that in general the excess of light is better than lack of it, the lamp is better placed on the left, and the “daylight” lamps may flicker, which is not good.


  • Feel free to experiment with lighting and choose the one that is most comfortable for your eyes.
  • Too much light is better than not enough.

Also, remember not to sit in front of a working monitor in a dark room! Our eye in such a situation is forced to cope with a very contrasting “picture”: a bright screen in the center is surrounded by a dark “background” (the interior of the room), which leads to overstrain of the eye muscles. When working at the computer in the evening and at night, be sure to turn on the light in the room!

There should be enough free space on the table. Remove all unnecessary items so that they do not distract you. To reduce muscle tension, the arms should fit on the table surface and not hang in front of it. Try to keep the free space as much as possible, and if for some inexplicable reason you like to keep dog food and a shovel handle next to the monitor, try to put them so that they do not get in the way.

  • Free up as much free space on your computer desk as possible. This will avoid a number of distractions and is also just handy.

How to “make friends” eyes with the monitor?

Without going into details, there are 3 rules for preserving vision during long-term work at the computer:

  • Take a short break every half hour.
  • Try to do eye exercises – they really help.
  • Adjust the monitor so that its brightness and contrast are comfortable for your vision.

Let’s take a closer look at each rule.

Give your eyes a rest! I think the most appropriate solution is to take three minute breaks every half hour. Spend a few minutes doing any activity that doesn’t involve eye strain: get up, take a walk, chat with your family, or just walk to the window and gaze into the distance. After a few minutes you will feel your eyes relax, and then return to work with renewed vigor!

Break time can be spent on eye exercises. Many have heard of them, but not everyone understands exactly how they work and what they are for. I will try to explain it.

The fact is that the human eye is historically not adapted for reading, working at a computer and other intensive workload. For most of the time of the existence of Homo sapiens, sight was used by humans for orientation in space, distinguishing “us” from “strangers”, recognizing edible herbs and fruits, interacting with collective hunting, making simple tools, etc. Practically none of these states provided for a long gaze at the same point, and besides, a luminous one. Using the system for other purposes increases the risk of its breakdown in any technique, and much the same happens to the human eye.

Looking at the monitor for long periods of time strains some of the eye muscles and weakening the function of others. There is an imbalance between the muscles that “stretch” the eye, changing its shape. Because of this, the focal length ceases to correspond to the distance to the retina, and vision deteriorates. The eyeball of nearsighted people is more convex, which is clearly visible even without special devices: observe people on public transport. A properly selected set of exercises will allow you to relax overstrained muscles and “pump up” weakened muscles, which will return the eye to its normal shape. With mild myopia (the most common disease of computer scientists), this way you can restore your vision completely.

Since when performing eye exercises we are talking about the development of muscles, then systematic and regularity is important in this matter. There are many different techniques, but a series of 5 exercises is usually sufficient to simply relax the eyes:

  1. Close your eyes tightly for 3 seconds, then open them for 3 seconds. Repeat 5 times.
  2. Blink quickly for 30-60 seconds.
  3. Gently massage your eyes through your closed eyelids using circular movements with your index fingers for 30 seconds.
  4. Sequentially alternate between looking at a close object and looking into the distance. This important exercise trains the accommodative muscle.
  5. Then repeat the eye massage through the eyelids.

Try to do these exercises 2-4 times daily, but do not overdo it: the eyes do not need unnecessary stress.

At the very beginning of the article, I promised to tell you about the “set rake”, the time has come! Exercises for the eyes are just as stressful for the organ of vision as gazing into a monitor, so you should start doing them carefully and with healthy enthusiasm. You shouldn’t repeat my attempt to exercise every half hour unless you want to get reactive conjunctivitis (inflammation of the lining of the eye from overexertion)! Unpleasant situation.

For people with a strong degree of myopia, there are more complex sets of exercises; ophthalmologists often recommend the Avetisov complex . I suggest that you do not postpone things on the back burner and right now get up from your computer and do the 5 eye exercises listed above. For convenience, I have prepared a simple file with their text, which is easy to print.

Did you manage? Well done! Then, as a reward, I will tell you a story about a monitor and cacti, which happened at one of my first works. It was an organization that had nothing to do with IT, but used computers for the purpose of “typing / printing”. Both cars stared at the world with 15-inch CRT monitors, and we all smiled in return. The idyll ended one day when the head. department came to work with two pots of cacti. It turned out that they were sold to him on the market by some smart businessman, who at the same time described all the horrors of radiation from monitors. According to the seller’s assurances, only one single rare species of cactus could save the situation, and it was this species that he offered on the counter. The manager put the cacti on the monitors and, with the air of a man who had just saved the world, said: “They absorb radiation and from this they grow very quickly … So we will see if there is radiation here.” Everyone laughed and forgot about it. However, after a few days it became clearly visible that the cacti became larger. Concern quickly gave way to anxiety: they were growing, no, they were growing, and at an incredible speed! After the weekend, the situation escalated almost to the limit: the morning shift, in disbelief, saw on the monitors two HUGE cacti, which in less than a week after the purchase grew like that at 10. Anxiety was replaced by panic, and a good part of the workers began to bypass the room with computers. … Someone remembered that there was a dosimeter at home, and promised to bring it. However, a dosimeter was not required. As it turned out, the cleaning lady, watering the flowers, gathered them together so as not to carry water, and then put them back. All bowls were the same, and it turned out that each time she mistakenly returned to the monitors not the same cacti, but cacti from other offices, similar, but large in size. It was fun! And the “usefulness” of cacti has not yet been proven, so I advise you not to stuff your head with pseudoscientific tales, but to do something more useful. For example, do some exercises!

Computer, muscle fatigue and posture

Working as a programmer, alas, involves a sedentary lifestyle. The solution here is one – move! This will avoid a number of serious immobility-related illnesses.

  • Use a comfortable mouse and keyboard to prevent hand fatigue. It doesn’t have to be expensive, ergonomic models, just that they are comfortable for you.
  • Keep your back straight. Always.
  • During your half-hour breaks (see guidelines for vision), try to move more.

There are many techniques, such as this one . If for some reason you don’t like it, you can remember school exercises, it is quite suitable. In order to convince you of the importance of such exercises, I will name a couple of diseases that prolonged sitting in front of the computer can cause. The first is “tunnel syndrome”. This is a specific disease of the hands, in which constant severe pain occurs in them due to disturbances along the nerve. Prevention – use a comfortable keyboard. The second disease is, sorry, prostatitis. With prolonged sitting, blood stagnation begins in the veins of the small pelvis, which does not lead to anything good. So move, men, move! As with eye exercises, regularity is important here. If you work at home – in between work at the computer, get up from the table and switch to another activity, to communicate with your family. If you are in the office – go for a snack, discuss something with colleagues. Spend more time on your feet, even when you don’t need it!

Instead of a conclusion

In matters of maintaining health at the computer, there are other factors that, alas, cannot be developed with exercise. And the most significant of them relates to psychology – the feeling of satisfaction from the work that you do. If you don’t like your current occupation, then there are only two ways out: to make it interesting or to find another job. You do not have the third option (“calm down and quietly complain about life”). It shouldn’t be; because changing your life is a natural human need, and not a simple desire. I thought so when I was 15, I think so now. Find your motto and follow it in life.

Everything I wrote about above is pretty easy to implement. There is a wealth of information on this topic on the Internet. These rules and exercises will take you 10-20 minutes a day, but years later, on the verge of old age, these few minutes will return to you in the form of several “extra” years of active and healthy life. Perhaps this is one of the most favorable deposit terms in the world, with one of the highest interest rates imaginable. Here you are both a client and a banker.

Make this deal with you?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *