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Are smartphones an even bigger aging and health threat than obesity?

We’re so worked up about obesity (rightly so, though) that we forget about all the many other things that are out to get you. Count amongst these your trusty computer and your indispensable smartphone.

The big problem is that we are either hunched over our computers at work or over our smartphones everywhere else. I’m sure you all know the problem that people now bump into you while you’re out walking coz they’re hunched over their smartphone and not seeing anyone. That hunching causes some big health issues.

First there’s all the neck and back problems. That’s led to a huge rise in back pain amongst people, especially younger ones. But that’s leading to other issues including problems with digestion, breathing, stomach pain, and so on. It’s becoming clear that using computers and smartphones is leading to widespread dysfunction in posture as well as mood.

Think of it this way. The average human head weighs about 10 pounds. That’s around 3 laptops. If you put those 3 on top of your head while you’re standing upright they won’t feel like they weigh anything because they’re supported over your center of mass.

But if you push those 3 laptops forward on a structure that projects them in front of you beyond this center of mass it’s going to cause your body to have to support them with lots of muscles and bones that were not designed to do that. That’s why computers and smartphones are screwing up our bodies and causing permanent changes to our posture.

Posture is a key but underappreciated factor in health. But you can see someone’s age just by looking at their posture. If they’re stooped it tells you a lot. These days, smartphones and computers are causing many young people to stoop even though they well under the age they should.

And it’s not like most people are minimizing the threat to their health by doing a lot of exercise. Even if they are the exercise they are doing won’t usually have an impact on improving their posture.

Remember the days when young ladies had to walk with a bunch of books on their head to improve their posture? When young lads were taught to puff out their chests and keep their shoulders back? Good deportment, remember?

Yep those days have long gone. It’s all viewed as being terribly old-fashioned. Yet most of us need that sort of advice and training right now, all the more so as we move less and hunch even more over the fascinating entertainment we are constantly viewing as we walk with heads pushed forward and looking down.

I always like to think of what our cave-men ancestors would have comported themselves usually in their daily lives. I fondly imagine that they were striding the pampas with their heads held high as possible to see over the grass to make sure that were no predators lurking that could do them in. They weren’t looking down at something in their hands (ok yes just a little to snatch the odd glimpse of whether there were any edible munchies or roots underfoot).

That was what your body was designed for over a period of millions of years. In a period of 20 years we have changed the structure and loads on that body to something the heavenly engineers who designed us never even dreamed about. That doesn't sound like it will have a happy ending.

Seems to me that the schools should be teaching kids how to walk and hold their heads correctly as they work with computers and smartphones. Some books balanced on young heads might not be such a bad start, old-fashioned though it might be.

There’s other things you can do besides walking through the prehistoric pampas. There’s adjustable desks, mid-range glasses especially for viewing computers, and even (God forbid) exercises for your back and neck (yep they exist). It’s not the complete answer since you’re still gonna have your smartphone and chances are you’ll still be looking down at it. But it’s a start.

Hands up those who want to look like they are 70 when their real age is 30? Not too many takers I surmise.

Your posture is a key element in your real age. Time to think about improving it (at the same time as you reduce your avoirdupois).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Monday, 20 November 2017

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