In our last blog we discussed the importance of setting up your home office the right way now that so many of us are working from home as the “new normal.” Getting your ergonomics right is crucial to avoiding an injury or ailment during the Stage 4 lockdown, but it is also just as important to keep your level of movement up, as we used to do before COVID-19.
Now that we are at home so much more during the Stage 4 lockdown, the amount of movement we do during a typical day has dropped dramatically (to put it lightly). Think about all the movement that is no longer part of your day, things like walking to the train station or from the car park, walking to the printer, walking between meeting rooms, the list goes on and on.
Compare all that incidental movement to what we have now – you don’t leave the confines of your house for 23 hours of the day. Everything you interact with is within a few metres of where you are right now. The toilet, the kitchen, the lounge, it’s all so close and requiring much less movement to get around your now confined space.
Scientific term warning: Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis, or what we would rather call NEAT for simpler reasons, is the term used to refer to all the many different ways we burn energy when we aren’t exercising, sleeping or eating. And it is our significant drop in NEAT that is cause for concern during the Stage 4 lockdown. A typical example of NEAT, such as walking between meeting rooms, doesn’t seem like it would make much difference in our lives, but when you consider the hundreds, and even thousands, of different examples of NEAT throughout our day before lockdown, it ends up making a big difference.
In fact, studies have shown that NEAT plays a key role in maintaining our energy levels and body weight, meaning that sudden and sustained drops in NEAT can result in feeling run down and putting on weight (not to mention the raft of other debilitating ailments you can pick up from sitting down for extended periods, especially with poor ergonomics).
This sure does sound like my current situation, so what can I do about it?
Glad you asked! The most important thing is to get up and move around your house at least every 30 minutes. Get up and go and get a drink of water, go and check the mail, put a load of washing on, do some house cleaning – make sure you do small bursts of activity at least every 30 minutes. We recommend you set an ongoing timer and make sure you stick to it, the results will show over time and you’ll greatly reduce your chances of picking up an injury (e.g. tight hips, lower back pain, etc).
The other benefit of getting up and doing something every 30 minutes is not only to increase your level of NEAT, but also to protect your eyes. Staring at our computer screens for prolonged periods of time will have a negative effect on the muscles that control your eyes, so make sure when you are going for your break (at least every 30 minutes, remember) that you also give your eyes a break and focus on objects that are more than five metres away for at least 20 seconds to reduce eye strain.
Also check the lighting in your work area for the sake of your eyes as well. If your room is too bright, you will speed up the rate of strain on your eyes when staring at your screen. And if the light is too dull, you’ll likely end up hunched forward, squinting at your screen trying to read the words on it. Finally, try and avoid sitting next to any light sources such as a window or lamp that can produce glare on your screen.
We hope you find this information useful and incorporate it into your “new normal” daily work routine. If you have any questions, please give our Reception a call on (03) 9457 2336 to speak further, all the best.