Oz & Roizen: Home-desk hazards, avoiding chronic diseases – Lifestyle – Athens Banner-Herald
It’s so painful to work at home — my back and neck are killing me. I think it’s from setting up my computer on the kitchen table. How can I make it more comfortable? — Stan R., Buffalo, New York
Before the pandemic, around 7% of Americans worked from home; now, no matter how the back-to-work solution rolls out, we bet more folks will find that they’re working from home some of the time, because it’s convenient and cost effective.
But for many people, it’s also a pain in the neck, elbows, arms, wrists, back and legs! That’s because plopping down your laptop willy-nilly at a kitchen table or at your kid’s desk is a formula for developing numbness or a burning sensation in your hand; pain, stiffness or swelling in your wrists, forearms, elbows, neck or back; headaches; and a reduced range of motion. So what’s the solution?
Your desk: You want clearance for your knees, thighs and feet. If your desk is too low, place blocks under the legs. Too high? Raise your chair and use a footrest to support your feet and legs, if needed.
Your chair: It should support your lower back and allow your feet to rest flat on the floor or on a foot cushion. Your thighs should be parallel to the floor.
Your monitor: Once you’ve positioned your desk and chair, place the monitor (on a stack of books) so it’s directly behind your keyboard and the top of the screen is at or just below eye level. With a laptop, you’ll need an auxiliary keyboard. The monitor should be an arm’s length away from you.
Your keyboard and mouse: Your fingers should be in a straight line with your forearm — it helps if you tip the keyboard away from you (opposite of how it’s usually done). The mouse should be next to the keyboard.
We hope this helps! Keep fiddling until it feels good. And remember to stand up, take a screen break and walk for three minutes every 30 minutes.
I feel overwhelmed by all the advice about healthy living — and although I want to sail into older age without any major problems, I just can’t do everything right! Can you give me some targeted recommendations? — Gail K., Youngstown, Ohio
You’re right that there are a lot of ways that you can protect your health and ward off chronic conditions. There’s meditating, eating nuts, standing up every 30 minutes during the day, giving up red meat — we could go on and on with a list of ideas big and small. But a recent Danish study has narrowed it down. The research, published in JAMA, found that the key to living past 50 without any major chronic diseases comes down to being physically active, maintaining a normal weight, avoiding smoking and consuming a moderate amount of alcohol (one drink a day). Those four rules, the researchers say, “confer the lowest risk of total mortality and chronic, non-communicable disease, particularly cardiovascular disease.”
But if you’ve sailed toward your golden years without paying much attention to the golden rules, and you’re overweight, smoke, drink a bit too much and/or eat junk food, all is not lost!
Adopting those healthy habits can extend your chance to live without developing chronic disease (Type 2 diabetes, coronary artery disease, stroke, cancer and asthma) by two to six years, say the researchers. And we say, if you adopt those healthy habits later in life and do develop diabetes or atherosclerosis, you may be able to reverse that by sticking with those lifestyle upgrades and expanding the time you spend exercising — 10,000 steps daily or the equivalent — and controlling the quality of your diet (no highly processed foods or processed and red meats).
To help you tackle these challenges, find an exercise or weight management buddy (try ClevelandClinicWellness.com/programs). And join support groups to quit smoking. The North American Quitline Consortium lists all quitlines in the country.
Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. Email your health and wellness questions to Dr. Oz and Dr. Roizen at youdocsdaily&sharecare.com.