Working From Home Experts Say to Keep Healthy Habits in Mind / Public News Service


Health experts are urging folks to ensure they’re ergonomically up to snuff while working from home.

A 2016 report by the United States Bone and Joint Initiative found the United States loses an estimated $213 billion in treatment and lost wages each year due to musculoskeletal ailments.

Cheryl Schwientek – program manager for office ergonomics and health, safety, and environment at the workplace consulting agency Briotix Health – said the pivot to working from home during the pandemic exacerbated those issues.

She said regular breaks away from the desk can help fend off musculoskeletal issues.

“When we don’t get that blood flowing through our body,” said Schwientek, “we’re not giving it the energy we need to be able to perform these tasks that we’re asking our body to do.”

Experts also advise folks to keep their focus on proper posture when seated at a home office desk – backs should be straight, knees at a ninety degree angle and shoulders should be in a straight line over hips.

Staying active, even if it’s just a daily walk, also can help fight off musculoskeletal ailments.

In a January Pew Research Center poll, more than a third of respondents indicated they were working from home despite their office being open.

Dr. Russell Amundson, national senior medical director at UnitedHealthcare, said folks who choose to work from home should consider how ergonomically sound their home office equipment is.

“There’s been a shift to telecommuting, which seems to have become persistent,” said Amundson, “the so-called ‘hybrid’ work space. So folks have surrendered or have been removed from more ergonomically designed workspaces with good office chairs, with good support, and of course the appropriate height desk.”

The Bone and Joint initiative report also estimates that about half of all Americans suffer from some form of musculoskeletal ailment or condition.

The U.S. isn’t alone though, as the World Health Organization reports lower back pain is the leading cause of disability in at least 160 countries.

Disclosure: United Healthcare contributes to our fund for reporting on Health Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

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