5 Ways Technology Puts Your Health at Risk & 5 Hacks to Safeguard
Overuse of digital technology can overshadow otherwise good health care. Here are 5 common health destroyers, with 5 simple prevention measures.
In the early 60s, a space-aged cartoon entitled The Jetsons pulled kids to television sets on Saturday mornings. Back then the futurist gadgets the family used seemed impossible. Today many of them exist, and most of us own them and use them endlessly.
Do all the benefits technology provides put your health at risk? Research seems to indicate the answer is YES. For example, look at the recent surge in health risks related to password stress.
Here are 5 ways digital technology may destroy your health, all of which lead to rising costs in healthcare. But here are 5 easy hacks you can implement to safeguard your physical well-being.
To be fully present in your waking hours, getting at least 8 hours of sleep is best. However, more and more of us are only grabbing six hours or less. That’s because digital technology is present in almost every room of the house. Bright light interrupts sleep patterns by reducing the melatonin the body produces. Without melatonin, you remain alert. In turn, this shifts your body’s natural sleep rhythms, which keeps you tossing and turning.
Night-lights, television light, or intense light emitted from your digital clock all contribute to sleep deprivation. Using a night mask is an excellent way to block any glow. If you don’t like covering your eyes, try leaving your phone or computer in another room when you go to bed. A poll taken in 2011 revealed nearly 95 percent of all Americans use at least one device before calling it a day. Making your bedroom a device-free zone is a quick, and no-cost step you can take to catch an extra hour of sleep.
The same light that disrupts sleep also makes you hungry, so there’s a tendency to snack. Snacking while sitting at a computer compounds the situation, especially if you’re looking at pictures of food. According to a 2014 National and Nutritional Examination Survey, researchers from Stanford University found that inactive American women rose from 19.1 to 51.7 percent between the years of 1994 and 2010. During that same time, the percentage of inactive American men rose from 11.4 to 43.5 percent.
Not even technology and medical miracles have found a way to burn excess calories without some exercise. Sitting more and moving less results in weight gain.
Don’t worry, though. The same technology can be flipped into a healthcare benefit. There are hundreds of exercise routine apps available on smartphones. Finding one that fits your personality and activity preferences, even if you travel a lot, is easy. Once you establish a favorite, sticking with it can offset some of your screen time. This greatly reduces the health risk from tech.
Most people spend five or more hours a day at some kind of digital screen. Did you know when you work at a computer screen for extended periods of time, you forget to blink? Research studies reveal you blink ten times less than usual when sitting at a computer display. This deprives your eyes of necessary moisture.
Close to 7 out of 10 Americans who use computers routinely complain of symptoms such as dry eye, eyestrain, burning, itching and even blurred vision. Although most of these symptoms are temporary, they are uncomfortable and can lead to headaches.
Try these quick fixes. Adopt a 20/20/20 system. Set your smartphone for a 20-minute time block. When it buzzes, look away from your computer. Focus on something 20 feet across the room for 20 seconds. Then return to work and repeat the process. Another helpful activity is blinking intentionally. Training yourself to blink, using your breathing pattern as a reminder, can go a long way to keeping your eyes moist and pain-free.
Neck and Shoulder Pain Health Risks
Most of you know leaning over laptops, smartphones or tablets for extended periods tightens the muscles between your shoulders. Even something as simple as tilting your head pulls tendons and ligaments in your back and neck.
An average adult head weighs anywhere from 10 to 12 pounds. When tilted toward a computer even 15 degrees, that weight increases to 27 pounds. If you bend it at a 30 degree angle, your back and neck are supporting 40 pounds. Multiply that by five or more hours a day, and it’s not surprising many people go to the doctor for neck, back and shoulder pain.
Here are a few things you can do to combat any pain, and even poor posture working at a computer creates. When walking, pull back your shoulders and stand as straight as possible. Or, when you’re taking a vision break, shrug your shoulders. Moving your muscles in a different direction keeps you flexible and loose. Lastly, you can stretch your muscles by tiptoeing the fingers of each arm slowly up a door jam until you can’t reach any further. Then do the same on the other side. The stretch feels amazing.
Loss of Hearing Health Risk
The number one cause of hearing loss in America is excessive noise. According to the Hearing Health Foundation, the number of Americans experiencing hearing loss doubled between the years of 2000-2015. Sixteen percent of our teens complain about hearing loss.
Too much noise directly into your ears can cause damage to tiny hair cells inside the inner ear. These hair cells do not repair themselves, creating an irreversible hearing loss. Headphones are the primary culprits. Hearing devices for your computers, phones, and tablets direct all noise (no matter how much we enjoy the content) directly into your ears. They amplify sounds up to and above 85 decibels, which can deteriorate your hearing.
The hack here are “noise-cancelling” headsets. Even older, earmuff style models block out background noises while also lowering the volume. Simple earbuds can’t drown out sounds around you, so there’s a tendency to crank it up. From a healthcare standpoint, that means it’s too loud. Make sure your volume is set to a reasonable level. And take regular breaks from your headphones to avoid this health risk.
These are five ways technology can destroy your physical health. Nevertheless, as you can see, you can protect your health with a few simple healthcare hacks. Using them will allow you to enjoy your technology without sacrificing your well-being.
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