The Digital Nomad’s Health Guide

March 30, 2016 | Editor
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There are a number of obvious advantages that come from having a job in which one can work remotely. Indeed, the ability to say that your office is a beach where temporarily you can work enveloped in a bean bag chair with a laptop as your only required companion to be able to work has become a common occurrence in the world of the digital nomad.


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Although on the surface one would be hard-pressed to find a problem with working in such conditions there is a very serious effect that working in these conditions has on ones posture and health in general that cannot be ignored, especially with the amount of devices that are available on the market that allow one to be a remote worker while still maintaining a healthy work ethic. Understanding that it is impossible to have a laptop resting on a lounge chair by the pool in a nice locale but still be able to work in a manner that does not have a detrimental effect on ones heath is extremely important. In this weeks blog we’ll discuss the different options available that are designed to minimize any detrimental effects not working in the traditional office environment can have on one’s health.

 

The effects of an unhealthy remote lifestyle

From holding your phone between your ear and shoulder, to constantly looking up and down from your monitor to your keyboard, all of these habits have an ill effect on your health. The worst of these is undoubtedly slouching, which one cant avoid if sitting at a desk is not your thing. There are a number of effects that bad posture are wreaking on your body including:

  1. Fatigue
  2. Irregular breathing
  3. Back pain
  4. Headaches
  5. Blocked digestive system
  6. Unnatural angles for the wrist and elbows

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If left unattended these seemingly insignificant habits can result in serious complications such as tendon degeneration, pinched nerves and slipped disks. Just keep one thing in mind always:

It is physically impossible to have good posture if all you have is a laptop

 

Tips on proper ergonomics

As a starting point and as a bare minimum introduce the following tips in your work routine immediately:

  1. Keep your elbows bent at 90 degrees
  2. Your arms should be by your side always
  3. Keep your screen at eye level making sure that your screen is 12 to 18 inches away from your face
  4. Keep your shoulders back and relaxed
  5. Have lumbar support for your back
  6. Your wrists should be flat, with their angle being neither upwards or downward

Know that it is impossible to be working on a laptop and have your screen at eye level while keeping your keyboard at elbow level.

 

Tools of the trade:

The following products have been designed keeping the remote worker in mind. It might be a good idea to look into making a few investments:

 Roost laptop stand:

 

This is considered to be the best laptop stand for the digital nomad. Its lightweight, sturdy and fits in any laptop and once you are done using it, can be folded to fit in your bag. They were such a hit that they sold out for a while but Roost has launched a Kickstarter campaign for a brand new version of the stand and they have already raised over $100,000.

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Therm-A-Rest Lumbar Pillow

 

A self-inflating pillow that adds lumbar support to whichever chair you’re working on. To inflate all you have to do is open the nozzle and it will start filling up with air. When you are done, simply deflate it and roll it up to the size of a pair of socks.

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A Dvorak Keyboard

 

The Dvorak is an alternate keyboard layout, patented by Dr August Dvorak in 1936. The way it works is that it minimizes the distance traveled by your fingers while typing and is designed to place the most common used letters under the domain of your strongest fingers. It has been shown to significantly reduce and prevent RSI symptoms. It takes about two to three weeks to become fully functional switching to a new layout but has shown to reduce the fingers’ travel distance by 40 to 50 percent. For a programmer all that time adds up over the years so you might consider switching to avoid complications that might arise in future.

 

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All said and done

While the above accessories are a great way to reduce the ill-effects that working on the road bring with them, having a healthy lifestyle through exercising regularly, eating healthy food and more importantly taking regular breaks while working are essential. Developing a routine that  allows you to take a break every 30 to 60 minutes would be ideal considering that prolonged periods of sitting in front of the computer may lead to obesity related illnesses like diabetes, heart disease, eye strain and musculoskeletal disorders. All it takes is getting up and walking around for a few minutes. While your job is an extremely important part of life nothing is worth protecting more than your well-being.

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