Here are tips on right diet, sleep, posture to dodge white-collar health woes

Late-night chats, watching movies online or just mindless scrolling on social media hamper one’s natural sleep process.

By Sulogna Mehta  Published on  30 March 2024 2:49 AM GMT
Here are tips on right diet, sleep, posture to dodge white-collar health woes

Representational Image. 

Hyderabad: Have you wondered why those engaged in white-collar jobs, seated in the comfort of their plush, air-conditioned offices and commuting in luxury cars, suffer from so many health issues? Most of them belong to the younger age bracket, in their 30s and 40s, yet bugged by various physical and psychological ailments including high blood pressure, diabetes, back and joint pains, anxiety syndrome, obesity, sleep and infertility issues and so on.

Lifestyle changes for the best

However, it is not that difficult to circumvent the health problems plaguing them.

Just a few positive changes in one’s sedentary lifestyle, including food habits, sleep patterns, cell phone and laptop usage and work postures are all that it takes for professionals to be healthy.

Dr TNJ Rajesh, internal medicine consultant from Star Hospitals, offered health tips for the white-collared employees, especially from the IT sector. “For the past 10 to 15 years, we have been seeing an increasing number of young professionals, especially from the IT sector, coming with health issues and ailments, which earlier used to affect mainly the senior citizens. Not only physical ailments but even psychological issues like stress, anxiety and depression are on the rise,” said Dr Rajesh.

Undisturbed 8-hour night sleep vital

We find that prolonged 14-15 hours of work – alert about one’s work 24/7 – disturbs the circadian rhythm as one misses out on eight hours of undisturbed night sleep.

Daytime sleep cannot compensate for the natural nighttime sleep. Both REM (Rapid Eye Movement) and deep non-REM sleep are needed for a healthy neurochemical balance in the body, in the absence of which stress and anxiety issues escalate and this regular lack of sleep makes one dependent on sleeping pills later in life.

Reduce excessive screen time

Apart from undefined, unbalanced work hours, another reason for lack of proper rest and sleep is exposing oneself to excessive screen time, and the blue light from phones and laptops that disturb the eyes and brain from getting adequate and timely rest.

Late-night chats, watching movies online or just mindless scrolling on social media hamper one’s natural sleep process.

Professionals should not keep all these gadgets in the bedroom or on the bed while preparing to sleep and it is recommended that one switches off these electronic gadgets at night.

How to correct posture and avoid back pain, eyestrain

Back pain is a common complaint from techies and other corporate professionals. It has more to do with office ergonomics – how they sit at their workstations.

“Firstly, adjust the height of the chair, knees should be at a right angle (90 to 100 degrees), spine should be straight and shoulders should be relaxed and neither hunched nor stiff. Elbows should be at the right angle to the armrest. The waist should be at the level of the forearms and the keyboard.

The monitor should be at eye level while the keyboard should be at elbow level. Screen brightness should be ideally at 40 per cent as excessive brightness can affect the eyes and trigger a migraine headache. It is preferable to use an anti-glare screen on the computer or laptop to reduce strain on the eyes,” advised the doctor and cautioned, “Those who need to spend a lot of time on the phone, should use wired earphones with a mic instead of Bluetooth to reduce radiation. Also, do not tilt the neck for a long time to one side while speaking. It can cause spondylitis and muscle issues.”

“Further, while sleeping, ensure that the mattress is of medium hardness, neither too firm nor too soft so that the entire curvature of the spine is supported and backache is prevented. Avoid soft, foam mattresses,” added Dr Rajesh.

Avoid infertility woes: Discard tight clothing, decrease laptop usage

Dr Rajesh also warned about using laptops close to one’s body.

Scientific studies have found that the heat generated by laptops, especially when they are kept on the lap or thighs while working, drastically reduces the sperm count and has been a major risk factor for male infertility apart from job stress.

“Therefore, it is advisable to buy a wireless keyboard and work on it while maintaining physical distance. Also, avoid wearing very tight jeans or pants or any clothing that can again generate heat and affect the sperm count,” he said.

Take a 5-minute break every one hour

The doctor also asked working professionals to get up from one’s workstation and take short breaks between work.

During the break, it is advisable not to sit or stare at the mobile screen but to move around. One can take a five-minute walk while listening to some calming, relaxing instrumental music. It will help to de-stress the mind and will be beneficial both physically and mentally.

Opt for healthy changes in diet

The doctor advised professionals to reduce intake of tea or coffee, especially if these beverages contain milk and sugar.

“Do not replace meals with tea or coffee. Ensure that tea and coffee are not consumed in excess, not more than two cups and not later than 4 pm. Try to go sugarless or add honey or jaggery instead of refined sugar, which is too harmful. Do not add any artificial sweeteners, which have also been declared as harmful by the WHO. Green tea without sugar is a better option. Also, try to minimise alcohol intake as much as possible and steer clear of smoking and tobacco consumption in any form,” he averred.

“When it comes to food, instead of frequently ordering high-calorie junk food, order or carry whole grain or multigrain sandwiches without cheese or cream toppings. Carry some quick munchies like dry fruits, especially almonds, walnuts and dried figs. Fresh fruit can also be a healthy snack option,” added the doctor.

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