To a certain extent, staying healthy means fighting society. There are a lot of conveniences that are really just bad for us. At the same time, some of the physical labor that we do perform, is likely to cause injuries if not done properly.
Convenience is harmful when there’s too much of it
Labor-saving devices… save too much labor! At least for those of us that work with mental labor instead of physical labor.
1. Prepackaged foods
Many of us are way too busy to cook good meals three times a day. Which means we’re eating out at restaurants that really know how to hit our buttons: salty, fatty, sweet.
Whether it’s sit-down or fast food, flavor engineering plus portion sizes mean eating out is both convenient and often dangerous to our health.
The most basic remote control to the multitude of apps that exist on our smartphones and digital assistants like Siri and Alexa. We barely have to move a finger to get anything we want.
Remember when you used to walk down the hall to talk to your colleagues? Now you text them. You used to have to actually GET UP from the recliner to change the channel on the TV. Unless you had a kid, in which case it was their job.
Now they’re in their own room watching TV, clicking through channels on the remote, while you do the same. Entertainment used to involve doing something with your hands, like knitting or whittling or playing cards with the family. Sometimes it even meant physical activity!
Now entertainment is almost exclusively sitting down and staring at a screen. Which is good neither for mental nor physical health, when done all the time.
Physical labor is harmful when done incorrectly
When bodies aren’t used to moving, moving them in unexpected ways or ways they weren’t designed to move, doesn’t make them healthy.
Work done today is designed with output in mind, not the physical constraints of the workers. Employees might be required to stoop over a folding table, or stretch for tools, or lift heavy materials. None of these things works with the human body’s natural inclinations.
We’re designed to walk, so walking more at work is great. Constantly bending over? Not so much. Sitting? Not good for humans at all. Lifting over and over again? Also not something our ancestors were doing a whole lot of out in the African savannah.
2. Weekend warriors
Many of the recreational pastimes that we’ve developed don’t work with the natural ways we move either. Walking and running are natural to humans. Soccer involves a lot of running, and kicking too.
However. Ever seen an ape swing a stick like it’s a golf club? Of course not. Bicycling isn’t something you see a lot at the zoo. Going out on the weekend and playing hard often results in injuries.
It doesn’t have to, but you have to think about what you’re doing and prepare yourself first.
Get a move on…but in healthy ways
Make sure your energy intake and energy outgo are balanced.
Remember that the food companies have engineered their products to be addictive. We humans love salty, fatty, sweet and that’s what a lot of prepackaged food delivers. Whether it’s at the grocery store, fast food, or other restaurant.
Not everyone has time to cook meals. You’re going to end up with this type of food at least once in a while. Unless you have a lot of leisure time. Just be smart about it!
If you go to the coffee shop, get coffee, not a milkshake. Buy prepackaged vegetables and fruits at the store, so they’re as easy to eat as a fast food hamburger.
Take a couple seconds to look at the food label when you’re shopping. See if the first or second ingredient is sugar or something sweet. If it is, put it back.
2. Move when you can as often as you can
If you normally sit to work, set a timer (or use your electronics!) to tell you to get up and move every hour. Have a sit-stand desk so you can stand up for periods during the day.
Take the stairs. Park farther away at the store. This also counts as your good deed for the day, because the old and infirm need the elevator and closer parking spaces. If you’re neither, let them have it.
Work in an office? Walk to your colleagues to talk to them. Use the bathroom on a different floor and take the stairs to get there. Have walking meetings.
3. Think ergonomic
Bending over strains your back. Whether you’re quilting, showing your wares at a craft fair, DJing, sorting incoming material at work on a folding table, if your surface is too low you’ll hurt yourself. Save your back instead by lifting the surface you’re working on.
Reaching for tools? Whether it’s at home or at work, repetitive reaching is bad for your shoulder. Organize everything so it’s easy to grab when you need it.
Lifting heavy things can hurt you too, both at work and at home. Use your knees, not your back! And if it’s way too heavy, get some help to lift it.
4. Prep your body
Walking doesn’t usually require a lot of warm up. Most other exercise does. Though if you’ve been mostly sedentary, walking five miles your first time out is not going to feel good afterward.
Warm muscles, joints and ligaments are less likely to be injured.
If you’re going out to swing something – golf club, bat, tennis racquet – warm up your shoulders, arms and back first.
Runners and bikers will usually find they need a bit of warmup. This could be in the form of walking or slow jogging or easy rolling before they really start hammering out the mileage.
How are YOU going to make life less convenient yet healthier? Let us know!