Gimme A Break

Keeping yourself in mint condition.
Magazine Contributor
3 min read

This story appears in the January 1998 issue of Subscribe »

Chances are, many of you are pretty faithful to your work area. So faithful, in fact, that you spend most days shifting a mouse, cradling a phone against your shoulder--and keeping yourself planted in your chair.

All that loyalty might help your business, but your body probably won't appreciate a repetitive stress injury, such as carpal tunnel syndrome. "Most of the people who get these injuries are sedentary and just use their wrist or elbow and not the whole arm," says Robert Rettig, DC, of Rettig Chiropractic in Irvine, California.

The solution? "I recommend taking a break every30 minutes to stretch," advises Rettig.

Take breaks, even if it means setting a timer to remind yourself. If all else fails, your computer can remind you: One program from Stress Away Software in Durango, Colorado, will pop up on your screen at designated times and demonstrate a stretching exercise. Download a trial version of the $39.95 software at

Watch your diet, too: Avoid fast foods and sugar, which can irritate your nervous system. Rettig recommends a diet rich in green vegetables. Exercise can also help: Muscle mass boosts the flow of oxygen to your muscles, helping them repair themselves efficiently. But Rettig cautions that exercises themselves can irritate your joints--so consult a professional before beginning an exercise program.

Some quick tips:

*Seat backs that recline slightly past upright can help reduce back-muscle fatigue.

*Keep your feet grounded or prop them up if they don't touch the floor.

*Place your keyboard and monitor right in front of you so you can look directly forward or slightly down. Ideally, your keyboard should be tilting down away from you with your mouse at the same height; your wrists should be flat.

Hooked On Health

As if you need another reason to rendezvous with your computer . . .

The Internet can be a time-saver.One site to sample: is Health World Online (> ), which offers everything from online shopping at a health food store to free access to Medline, the database of the National Library of Medicine.

From the map on the home page, link to the Health Clinic, Fitness Center or Nutrition Center to get the skinny on diseases, fitness routines and healthy foods; for specific health questions, try one of the search tools in the Library.

Shop in the Bookstore, where you'll find more than 2,000 health-related titles as well as some healthy recipes and dieting tips. Get away from it all with Healthy Travel, where you can find a spa, retreat or cruise--with health-related themes, of course.

Be prepared to sift through some lengthy links on this site. But overall, Health World Online is easy to navigate and plump with free information and resources. And if you become a member--also free--you'll get the latest health news in Healthy Update, a bi-weekly e-newsletter.

Quick Tips

Good for you, if you're eating your fruits and veggies. But do you know how to cook them? Zap 'em, says The American Dietetic Association. Microwave cooking only requires about two tablespoons of water, allowing fruits and veggies to retain important vitamins and minerals.

Contact Sources

The American Dietetic Association, (800) 366-1655,

Rettig Chiropractic, Stonecreek Plaza, 4250 Barranca Pkwy., Stes. A & B, Irvine, CA 92604, (714) 559-7999

Stress Away Software, 10 Town Plaza, #226, Durango, CO 81301,

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