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My Long, Unending Journey to Find Perfect Office Equipment

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In 2012, I started working from home full time. Within just a few months, I threw my back out from sitting all day at a home office thrown together from what I had on hand. That event kicked off a quest to find office equipment that would be a bit easier on my spine. I expected the quest to consist of a trip to the store. Instead, it’s been years of learning what good posture really entails.

Before getting a new job that allowed me to work from home, I wasn’t making enough money to get by. The new job was a step up, but during those first few months I was working at a cheap metal desk from Walmart with a metal folding chair. The desk had a flimsy keyboard tray, but no space for a mouse. So my mouse and keyboard were at different elevations. My monitor sat on the desk, on a rigid, nonadjustable stand. It was an objectively terrible setup. Aside from the metal folding chair, though, it was a pretty common one.

So, over the course of several years — as I was able to afford each new upgrade — I searched for the best, most ergonomic option. In some cases, I found that buying a new piece of hardware could have a dramatic impact on my posture. But I also found that no amount of “perfect” equipment could fix bad habits.

The first thing that had to go was the metal folding chair. A good office chair can be expensive, but it’s also like buying a mattress. If you’re going to spend a third of your life in it, it should be comfortable. Wirecutter, The New York Times Company that reviews products, suggests looking at a few key criteria when picking an office chair, including:

  • Comfort: Everyone’s body is different, and finding a chair that’s comfortable is often a matter of personal preference. If possible, it’s important to sit in a chair before buying it to ensure it’s comfortable.

  • Lumbar and back support: While a cheap office chair might offer very little lumbar support (and my awful folding chair had none), a good chair should be adjustable enough to support your spine in a variety of sitting positions.

  • Adjustability: Not only is your body different from everyone else’s, but you’re not likely to sit in one position all day. Or at least you shouldn’t. Whatever chair you buy should have adjustable seat height, armrest height, tilt and seat depth. Some cheaper chairs might leave off certain adjustments, but the more you can customize your chair, the better.

You can read more about what to look for in a good office chair (and get some specific recommendations) in the Wirecutter guide here. According to Leon Straker, a professor at Curtin University’s School of Physiotherapy and Exercise Science, when choosing a chair, you should consider more than just one sitting position.

“There are three ‘good’ sitting postures,” he said. The first one, what he calls “upright” is “commonly shown in posters of good posture” and entails keeping the torso vertical and elbows relaxed by one’s side. It’s best for working on a computer.

The second, a “‘forward” posture, involves sitting at the front of the chair and leaning forward with the forearms resting on the desk. “This is useful for writing,” said Dr. Straker.

In the third, a “backward” posture, the body is reclined and receives support from the chair’s backrest “This is useful for talking on the phone,” said Dr. Straker. “Good desk and chair equipment allows you to vary between at least two of these, preferably three.”

Once I found an office chair that worked for me, it was an immediate relief. My legs, shoulders and especially lower back felt better. It’s hard to overstate how important a good chair can be, no matter what else may be right or wrong with your setup. However, while it was an improvement, I still found myself with an aching back, sore knees and especially strained wrists at times. It turns out, buying a new chair won’t magically fix everything.

Much ado has been made about standing desks in recent years. For some, it’s a miracle. For others, the hype is overblown. In my case, I just didn’t want to make the commitment. My old crappy metal desk wasn’t working very well, but the idea of standing for eight hours a day (or more) was too much to take on all at once.

For the longest time, I used two small monitors sitting on even smaller stands, which put the eye level of the monitor way too low for comfort. This can lead to hunching over and leaning forward to see text on a screen at a proper eye level. To alleviate this problem, I upgraded my workstation with an adjustable monitor arm. With my monitors on these arms, they can be moved to eye height, turned to any angle, and even rotated. I immediately noticed that I sat up straighter. Rather than contorting my body to my monitor, I was adjusting my monitor to my body. It seemed like a great upgrade.

The only problem is, I could’ve done the same thing with a small box.

A small box or a couple of books placed underneath a monitor stand can raise a monitor high enough to look at straight on without hunching over. Many computer monitors even come with adjustable stands to raise their height. Even that might not be necessary, according to Dr. Straker. “With screens now typically quite large, few people need blocks to raise their screens so the top of the screen is at their eye level.”

If you still have a small monitor, then it might be worth adjusting its height, but otherwise, just having a separate monitor — as opposed to, say, working on a laptop — should be good enough. “Having a computer screen that is separate from the computer keyboard allows you to get the screen in a good position for your head and eyes and the keyboard in a good position for your hands and arms,” Dr. Straker said.

I might enjoy my adjustable monitor arms, but as I learned later, they were hardly a miracle upgrade. They were just nice to have.

Sometimes, I found that upgrading my office equipment provided a huge benefit to my posture. Just as often, certain upgrades were entirely useless, or at least could have been done at a less exorbitant cost. But more important, I learned that there’s no one perfect posture or set of equipment that will magically make back pain or long-term health problems go away.

No matter what position you sit in, staying in it for too long can cause problems. “Variety is key,” explained Dr. Straker. “Aim for a ‘Goldilocks’ day — where you get enough physical stress to encourage your body to maintain or build muscle and bone strength and heart and lung fitness — whilst allowing enough recovery time.”

And despite any diagrams or charts you may have seen to the contrary, there’s no one “correct” posture. There are many, and it’s important to change them up every so often. “The most common misconception I see is that people think there is one good sitting posture — and that if they sit like that they will be fine,” said Dr. Straker.

“In fact, prolonged sitting in any posture puts people’s health at risk,” he said. “The secret to reducing health risks associated with desk-based tasks is to design your day so you get lots of variety in posture and movement as you are doing productive tasks.”

In my case, the convertible standing desk helps me switch between standing and sitting — I may change positions a dozen times throughout the day — while my office chair helps ensure I have decent posture while sitting. What good posture looks like for you may be different and it requires some forethought to create the right system you need.

What to Buy is a new series in collaboration with Wirecutter, the New York Times Company that reviews products.

Health and Wellness

I have started to do Yoga, Hiit at home, and what am I, or I start to notice, after a few sessions, the abdomen and legs firmer?

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Give the profile of Irene Alda on Instagram has been the best thing that could have happened to me now that I am so much time at home. This yoga instructor teaches a discipline that is defined as Yiit, that is to say, yoga+hiit. For those that missed workout in the fitness room, the TRX, the machines of strength and dumbbells, the possibility to practice this discipline at home is a real gift because it has it ALL:

· You do not need any itemwork with your own body. Great, if you don’t have gym gear at home.

· Incorporates cardioperfect for our heart to pump and to move the oxygen, so complicated when you can’t even walk.

· You work a lot of the flexibility so that the body acquires a very harmoniouswithout mark too the muscles.

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Health and Wellness

How Bubonic Plague Has Helped Russia Fight the Coronavirus

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MOSCOW — In a remote alpine meadow in Kyrgyzstan a few years ago, a teenage boy killed and skinned a marmot. Five days later, his parents carried the sweating, delirious boy to a village hospital where he died of bubonic plague.

Like a ghost from the medieval past, the plague still makes occasional, unwelcome appearances in remote regions of the former Soviet Union, where it survives today in wild rodents.

Over the centuries, with improved public hygiene, the plague declined as a threat. Today, as a bacterial infection, it is treatable with antibiotics, if caught in time.

But the plague was still a lethal menace in the 1920s and also an embarrassment for the Soviet Union, which established a specialized state agency to track and contain it.

Successors to that agency still exist in Russia and in half a dozen other countries that were once Soviet republics, and, with their ready quarantine plans and trained personnel, they have become a mainstay of the regional response to the coronavirus.

“Of course, it helped” early on, said Ravshan Maimulov, director of a regional antiplague service in Kyrgyzstan who examined the teenage plague victim when he died in 2013. He used the same quarantine plan that he had instituted after the boy’s death to respond to the coronavirus in March.

When the 15-year-old had arrived at the village hospital, “the body was still damp from sweat and I felt swelling under the armpits and chin,” Mr. Maimulov said. But the boy was too far gone to save, and he died within hours.

Mr. Maimulov, 57, trained at a Russian antiplague institute called Microbe. After the boy’s death, he had the authority to immediately put in motion plans for a lockdown, even though at that point they had only a partial diagnosis.

He relayed the news to a regional governor in code — they would need to implement “Formula 100” — lest word leak and inhabitants of the village, Ichke-Zhergez, should try to flee before the door slammed shut.

“We needed to prevent them all from running away,” he said. By the next morning, police checkpoints were in place and the village was sealed.

On his recommendation, the authorities in the surrounding Issyk-Kul region used the same approach in March in introducing coronavirus lockdowns. “We worked under the operative plan for the plague,” Mr. Maimulov said in a telephone interview. The region of about half a million people has reported three coronavirus cases, he said. Kyrgyzstan has reported five deaths.

Russia maintains 13 antiplague centers, from the Far East to the Caucasus Mountains, five plague research institutes and multiple field stations. In March, the authorities moved new laboratory equipment into the antiplague center in Moscow to expand its ability to test for coronavirus.

The Microbe institute, originally dedicated wholly to bubonic plague but later expanded to tackle other infections such as cholera, yellow fever, anthrax and tularemia, models the spread of the coronavirus.

Starting in January, directors of antiplague centers in the Eurasian Economic Union, the Moscow-led trade alliance of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia, held conference calls about the coronavirus. And a plague institute in Odessa, Ukraine, is among agencies responding to the coronavirus there, officials said.

“The very fact that Russia and the other former Soviet states are, exactly, former Soviet states means a common legacy,” in health care, said Dmitri Trenin, director of the Carnegie Moscow Center. A legacy of focus on epidemics helped, he said. Soviet health care had haphazard success at treating individuals but “could respond like the military to epidemics,” he noted.

Other analysts of former Soviet medical services say that, in the longer term, the Soviet legacy will prove no gift. The capacity to counter epidemics had degraded while little was done to improve an ability to treat patients, according to Yevgeny S. Gontmakher, a professor at the Higher School of Economics and an authority on Russian health care.

“The plague doctors were the elite of a hundred years ago, not today,” he said.

In Kyrgyzstan, Mr. Maimulov works in a wooden laboratory in what had been, until a few weeks ago, the medical backwater of plague control. Most years, he plans for campaigns of spraying insecticide into rodent burrows, to kill fleas and slow the spread in animals.

The disease cannot be fully stamped out. “They are rodents, they reproduce quickly,” he said. “It’s not worthwhile to kill them.”

The family of the 15-year-old boy were herding sheep in the mountains and trapping marmots for fur as a sideline. The boy skinned the marmot with a razor blade. Though the Black Death typically spreads by flea bite, in this instance the boy caught it simply by nicking his finger.

Eventually, 32 villages were put under quarantine while about 700 nurses went door to door looking for infection. Marmot hides were collected and burned. But the antiplague team had acted quickly enough. The boy was the only confirmed case.

Oleg Matsnev contributed reporting.

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A strength training and cardio that you can do at home in 15 minutes

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That we are confined does not mean that we train: it is one of the key guidelines to maintain a healthy life style, also in these circumstances. So, today I bring you this training that combines strength work and cardioto get a full workout without the need to use more material objects that you have at home.

This training, although we followed, consists of two parts: an anaerobic, in which we will seek to increase the strength due to our body weight and other cardiovascular to finish the training. All training will be able to complete from the same room of our house.

We begin with the part of strength in which we will perform the following exercises one after another without stretching a lot of break times. We will not set a specific time, but the idea is that you will not recover at all between sets and you get to the next series somewhat tiredbut you can complete it.

EXERCISE

SERIES

REPETITIONS

Squats

4

15

Funds triceps on chair

3

12

Push-ups

3

12

Remo table

4

12

And finally we ended up with a small interval training of high intensity with a structure Tabata in which we will do a single exercise. In this case we opted for the burpees since this is an exercise very complete and in addition, with little time, it will speed up our body and help to burn a lot of calories. If you want to, you can choose another: the skipping, the hopping with jumping rope or jumping jacks are good examples.

Choose the exercise that we choose we will do six or eight sets of 20 seconds of work and 10 seconds of rest, thus completing between three and four minutes of cardiovascular work.

As always, so you can be sure to perform each exercise properly we will explain them one by one.

A cardio workout without jumps, and without material with exercises to do in your own home

Squats

We started working our legs with a squats free of weight and deep. We put the feet with a separation similar to the width of our shoulders, the soles of the feet well supported on the floor and the toes facing forward.

In this position we bring the buttocks back slightly, while keeping your back as upright as possible at all times and flex the knees to perform a movement similar to that which we would want to sit in a chair that was behind us. Keep in mind that the weight must fall on our heels and not on the toe.

Funds triceps on chair

funds-triceps-chair-training-in-house

To work our arms, mainly the back, we’re going to make funds with a chair or on a chair. We place ourselves in front of the chair or armchair, we support the hands with the fingers facing forward and support our feet on the ground.

From this position flexionaremos our elbows until they form an angle of about 90 °, directing always our elbows back. After, we will stretch our elbows to return to the initial position.

Remember, if you are a beginner, you can put your knees bent and your feet close to your glutes for ease of movement, loading and less weight. If you’re already an expert, keep your legs straight and feet clear of the buttocks.

15-minutes of training material with exercises to put your abs to the point at home

Push-ups

push-ups chest-workout-at-home

To work the pectoral there is nothing better than a few pushups at home. We can do them with your feet flat, if we have strength, or on our knees if we are beginners or we are unable to complete the 12 repetitions.

We will stand on the floor with the palms of your hands directly beneath your shoulders, and the forefoot of both feet or knees on the floor. In this position flexing our elbows, guiding them backuntil the chest touch the ground and return to stretch your arms to complete one repetition.

Remo table

To work our back home we will perform a rowing invested using a table and our body weight. We will stand under the table (you can also use a chair, though you will have less travel in the motion), and hold both sides of the table with the hands.

In this position we force by bending our elbows and getting close to our chest to the table all possible: it is a movement of pull similar to the rowing that we can do in the gym or in a dominated. Then down, controlling the movement until your arms are fully stretched to complete a repetition.

Burpees

We ended up with this cardiovascular exercise in format Tabatathat will help us to finish the training by burning calories. The burpees put together different movements to work virtually the whole body: a squat, a push and a vertical jump. Remember that in this training we’ll do six to eight sets of 20 seconds of work and 10 rest.

We begin standing in a relaxed position, with the legs open to the width of our hip. Perform a squat and we support our hands in the soil: with a leap, we carry our legs backward up into a pushup position or plank front. From there, we made a bending, touching our chest with the floor, or relying directly on the floor if we are newbies. We return to the pushup position and, with a jump, collect the legs forward: we go back to stand up and chain a vertical jump, to help us bringing our arms up.

This article was originally posted by Victor Falcon in march of 2019 and has been revised for republication.

Videos | Tutograma and Vitónica
Image | iStock
In Vitónica | A circuit of functional training that you can do in your own home

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