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 Healthy Computing: Keep It Warm 
 
The following is one in an ongoing series of columns entitled Healthy Computing Tips by . View all columns in series
Now is the season for cooler weather and shorter days and for ensuring that your room is the appropriate temperature for working safely. Do you have an office with drafty windows and/or poor heating? Our body prioritizes heat distribution, with the extremities at the bottom of the list. When we work in colder rooms, we may be at risk of injury because the cold can contribute to vasoconstriction of the wrists, hands and fingers, which can result in cold hands, increased muscle tension and limited range of motion. Take time now to ensure that when you work, you can KEEP IT WARM.

HOW TO KEEP IT WARM:

If you are in the same office as last winter, take a moment to reflect on whether you were cold or comfortably warm when working. If you are in a new office, ask coworkers about the temperature. Winter room temperature is best for work when it ranges between 67 and 76 Fahrenheit.* If your office is colder than recommended, explore some of the following options:

  • Increase room temperature if the room is too cold for you (e.g., turning the thermostat up or request a portable heater). Ask your supervisor for help in resolving the situation.
  • Block drafts when sitting at your desk or computer by adjusting air vents or by changing the location of the workstation (e.g., rearrange the desk so that you are not sitting next to a cold window).
  • Wear a turtleneck, scarf or hat (40% to 60% of body heat is lost through your head and neck).
  • Wear warmer clothing with long sleeves to cover your wrists (fingerless gloves can also help). However, if you must resort to wearing hats or coats, your room is too cold for working safely. Notify your supervisor or plant manager and ask them to address the situation immediately. Wearing heavy clothing, such as coats, can restrict movement when working and can contribute to discomfort and injury.
  • Increase active movements and reduce sitting still for extended time periods.
  • Decrease caffeine intake, since it constricts peripheral blood vessels.
  • Reduce or stop smoking cigarettes or cigars (nicotine decreases blood flow in the extremities).
  • Practice hand warming by exhaling very slowly with diaphragmatic breathing. Imagine the air flowing down and through your arms and out your hands with each exhalation.

* Recommended guidelines issued by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE).

Copyright 2002 Erik Peper, Ph.D. and Katherine Hughes Gibney

      
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 About The Author
Erik Peper, Ph.D. is an international authority on biofeedback and self-regulation. He is Professor and Co-Director of the Institute for Holistic Healing Studies, Department of Health Education, at San Francisco......moreErik Peper PhD
 
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