more you use your body to perform forceful, repetitive actions,
he says, the more likely you are to develop an injury. With the
growth of texting, for instance, has come the common problem
now known as “texter’s thumb.” This isn’t a new injury, just
a new cause. “This injury has been known since the very first
book on occupational medicine in 1700, when it was called
‘baker’s thumb’ because bakers kneading bread dough developed
inflammation to the outside of their thumbs,” says Hedge.
The injury became washerwoman’s thumb by the end of the
1800s, pipetter’s thumb in the biotech era of the 1980s and then
Nintendo thumb in the 1990s. Explaining that the thumb is
designed for stabilization rather than dexterity, Hedge urges hard-
core texters to use an external Bluetooth keyboard, try a voice
application that converts their speech to text or simply alternate
texting with other activities to give their thumbs a rest.
• Use an activity tracker. A pedometer can make you realize
how much time you spend sitting and up your activity, says
Jeanne Johnston, a clinical associate professor of kinesiology
at Indiana University–Bloomington School of Public Health.
In a small study presented at the American College of Sports
Medicine’s annual meeting this year, Johnston had participants
wear pedometers and receive exercise and nutrition tips by email.
When the study ended 12 weeks later, the subjects had reduced
their sitting time from four hours a day to 3. 3 hours on average
while increasing their physical activity and reducing their body
mass index. Use a pedometer with Internet capability, and you
can track your progress online or compete with online pals.
• Focus on fun. In a 2011 study in the International Journal of
Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity,
psychologist Michelle L. Segar, PhD, of
the University of Michigan and colleagues
found that middle-aged women who
focused on the immediate quality-of-life
benefits of exercise stuck with it more
than those who exercised to lose weight or
ensure healthy aging.
Courtney Stevens, a clinical psychology
graduate student at the University of
Colorado at Boulder, has taken that
finding to heart, in both her academic and
personal lives. “The American College of
Sports Medicine has a campaign called
‘Exercise is Medicine,’” says Stevens. “That
message needs to be in conjunction with
another message: Exercise helps you feel
good immediately.” In a 2012 article in
the American Journal of Health Promotion,
Stevens and her mentor, psychology
professor Angela Bryan, PhD, proposed
creating a smartphone app or some
other way to help people monitor their
immediate affective response to exercise
and make those benefits more salient. But
even before that dissertation project gets
underway, Stevens is practicing what she
preaches by taking gym classes with her
classmates every week, having a standing
date with a friend to run several times a
week and just getting up from her desk
whenever she feels herself lagging.
For more tips on setting up an
ergonomically sound work station, visit
Hedge’s ergonomics website at http://ergo.
Rebecca A. Clay is a writer in Washington,
continues from page 20
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