What effect does online school have on our physical health?
In the history of modern education there has never been a time in which students were forced to learn their everyday school knowledge from home for such an alarmingly long period of time. It has been over a year since students first started learning through their computers at home. The amount of actual days at school over the past year can be counted in weeks. This uncomfortable internet learning doesn't just have an impact on our mental stability but also on our physical health.
Before COVID-19 students had many different activities after school that defined them. At the start of the pandemic everything closed and everyone with a proactive lifestyle was involuntarily obligated to temporarily quit their hobbies. And it gets worse. Many students stopped their physical activity which is very unhealthy for the human body, especially for adolescent development of muscles and bones. A typical student’s day during the online school learning period is simply sitting at a monitor for hours and hours watching presentations. This lifestyle leads to muscle loss, increased vulnerability against different illnesses and mainly a great risk of addiction to the monitors. For the past year adolescents have woken up at around 8 o'clock, participated in online school at the computer till around 15:30, done their homework until around 16:30-17:00, and then relaxed by watching their favorite series and playing video games.
It is very important for students to understand the weight of the effect. I have had the chance to meet with physiotherapist Daniel Šácha who explained his point of view on physical health regarding students affected by online school, and helped me raise awareness about our physical health during the pandemic.
Firstly, I asked what the biggest physical health risks are for students that sit at their computers most of the day.
Mr. Šácha replied that one of the biggest long-term problems for students at their computers is probably chronic back pain and different motion patterns that the body learns to do. Sitting for a majority of hours during the day can lead to back pain relatively quickly. Also, more calories are gained during the day in comparison with a day spent at school. This can lead to obesity and heart problems.
I was then interested to hear if there are any alternative ways students can lessen the risk of these health problems.
Mr. Šácha thinks it is very important to create small 30 minute breaks dedicated to walking outside. It is very important for the body to have physical activity. Physical health is not necessarily based on the amount of performance of the body but about the quantity of time devoted to the activity.
Next I had a question regarding the minimum amount of physical activity for a student so that the student remains healthy.
As he had already mentioned, a 30 minute walk is enough. He puts emphasis on the fact that the difference between sitting the whole day and taking short breaks makes a significant difference.
Once a student loses their chance to create an alternative because they are already in pain, what can they do to lower and later to terminate any health problems from the lack of proper and regular physical activity during the pandemic?
It is very important for anyone with health problems to go to a doctor and possibly a physiotherapist. It is very important that people find professional help for their muscle pain. First of all leaving the problem as it is can be dangerous because it can, and will, get worse, and being in the hands of a professional physiotherapist can result in a relieving experience.
Once a student lowers their risk and/or improves their health, do you have any recommendations for a healthier lifestyle that can be maintained long term?
Everyone is different and needs a different kind of recommendation. It should be a priority for every student to correctly move and eat. I strongly recommend a professional that understands you and the topic so that everyone can find what they are looking for.
I thanked Mr Šácha for coming and taking the time to inform students about this important topic. It is very necessary for every student to take their physical health very importantly because we only have one body and in this demanding time it should be everyone's priority to take care of themselves.
Yes, I agree, thank you for having me
Written by Oskar
Michigan Medicine - Department of Psychiatry, “Importance of Physical Activity and Exercise during the COVID-19 pandemic
Physiopedia, “Physical activity and COVID-19”
Physiotherapist Daniel Šácha and information he has acquired over the years.