AARP Eye Center
Consider it one of the downsides of our increased reliance on technology: a potential decline in our physical health.
Because we're so attached to our computers, e-readers, smartphones and tablets, we face carpal tunnel syndrome and other repetitive strain injuries; back, eye and neck strain; plus problems associated with a general lack of exercise.
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Moderation in using devices is key, of course, but whether you're working from home or simply want to minimize any physical problems when you're on your laptop or phone for recreation, here are some easy-to-apply pointers.
Invest in a decent chair. While sitting at a desk, workers need a chair with lower-back support.
But you need not spend hundreds of dollars on one. Some discount retailers sell an all-leather armchair with cushioned lumbar vertebrae support for less than $80. A chair with wheels is also a good idea, so you can position yourself easily for more comfort.
Your mouse and keyboard should be at about elbow level. And your feet should be flat on the floor. Use a milk crate for your feet if you're shorter in stature, like yours truly. This also should help prevent you from hunching over at your desk.
Position your screen
If you need to place your monitor to the left or right side of the desk, position your chair so you're not turning your head to see the screen; over time, this could put unnecessary strain on your neck. Your head should be centered with your body, and you should be looking straight ahead at eye level to see your monitor. You can use stacks of thick hardcover books to help you raise the laptop and monitor to the proper height.
Also, make sure you have adequate lighting, to minimize straining to see the keyboard, monitor or papers on your desk. If you find yourself squinting to see the text on-screen, enlarge the font. In your favorite web browser, email program or word processor, simply select a larger text size or zoom level. Bigger monitors, which are cheap these days, fit more words on the screen.
Pick a good mouse
When shopping for a mouse, try it out at a store first, to make sure it's comfortable for you. This includes the size and shape of the mouse, because many brands come in small, medium and large, or even extra large.
If you do buy one online, check the seller's return policy. Some mice may be ideal for both left- and right-handed users. Your mouse should have a curved hump on top to comfortably fit the underside of your palm.
When using a mouse, try to limit your wrist movement, focusing on keeping your wrist straight and your elbow pivoted and moving only your forearm.
If using a mouse causes you wrist discomfort, consider a trackball. These devices don't require wrist movement at all; rather, you simply rest your hand on top and use your fingertips to move the ball.