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Is your room temperature comfortable as the days are getting shorter and colder? 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, the cold can contribute to vasoconstriction of the finger, hands and feet, which can result in cold hands, increased muscle tension and limited range of motion. Take time to ensure that when you work, you can KEEP 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., turn 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).

The Institute for Holistic Healing Studies and Human Resources sponsor the distribution of Healthy Computing Email Tips. Copyright 2009 Erik Peper, Ph.D. and Katherine Hughes Gibney. Permission to copy and distribute Healthy Computing Email Tips for personal use is granted. Distribution or copying of Healthy Computing Email Tips for commercial purposes is prohibited without prior written consent of the copyright holders.
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