In a recent poll we discovered that over one third of the Envato community use a laptop as their primary computer. And even more would be doing what I do—regularly using a laptop as a second computer. In fact, I’m typing this on my laptop as I enjoy the peace and quiet of the library. It’s good to get out sometimes!
But working for long periods on a laptop can be hazardous to your health. Recently Lior Levin explored the issues in a FreelanceSwitch article called How Freelancers Can Stay Healthy While Working on a Laptop. It’s full of great advice.
Lior describes the problem:
Sitting all day on a laptop can actually present more health challenges than the typical office job, since a laptop can add extra strain to wrists and the neck. In addition, you can work on a laptop anywhere, leading to a variety of potentially harmful long term consequences.
He then goes on to describe some strategies you can use to safeguard your health. Here are four major points from the article:
- Dock your laptop. When you’re working at your desk, use a docking station to get the benefit of a full-size ergonomic keyboard, a large monitor, and a comfortable mouse. Or use a desktop computer when at your desk, and your laptop when out and about. By avoiding the compromises of a laptop as much as possible, you’ll protect yourself from neck strain, wrist strain, and shoulder pain.
- Posture is important. I don’t know how many times I was forced to type that phrase by the Typequick program when I was learning to type in the early 90s. But it’s true. Sit in a decent chair with your feet flat on the floor, and keep your arms by your side on a 90 degree angle. Or buy an exercise ball and try not to roll off while you type.
- Manage your diet. Drink lots of water, and try not to spill it on your keyboard. And keep some healthy snacks handy. That way you’ll avoid muscle cramps, and maintain your energy level.
- Stretch at your desk. Take some brief breaks to relieve your muscles. A few years ago I used the Workrave app that that periodically gave me some exercises to do when it thought I was working too long. It was fun, and helpful.
Lior’s article goes into much more detail, so make sure you visit FreelanceSwitch and read it in full.
Do you regularly use a laptop for work? How do you protect your health?