Health and Fitness for Developers

You’re a master of iOS, but are you a master of your well-being and health? Learn why and how to care for yourself — from a developer’s perspective. By Felipe Laso-Marsetti.

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You’re likely already a master of Swift, iOS 11, Kotlin, and Android Oreo. Perhaps you, like me, find yourself visiting to read the latest tutorial or continue with an awesome course you’ve been eager to try out. But do you give the same amount of attention and care to your mind, health, and fitness as you do to your technical skills? Most of us don’t.

In this article you’ll see why it’s very important to take care of your health. I’ll also share a personal story to drive home the fact that staying fit, caring for your posture, eating well, and exercising is just as important to your career as is learning the latest API or programming language.

Disclaimer: We are not doctors, nor has this article been revised/edited by one for medical accuracy. These tips and suggestions are based on our experience. For any questions, doubts, or concerns involving major changes in your health and fitness, please consult with your doctor or primary healthcare provider!

Health and Fitness 101: Listen To Your Body And Mind

Do you ever wake up with neck or back pain? Are your hands, fingers, or joints achy at times? Maybe your leg has a pinched nerve or it goes numb when sitting for too long. It could also be that you lack energy and motivation, or you’re feeling a bit blue and have no real reason for it.

These signals are your body and mind gently trying to get your attention, telling you a tiny adjustment (or few) to your lifestyle may be due.

Not all aches, pains, or changes in your body mean you must go to a doctor. We all have those nights where our pillow gets funky and we wake up with neck pain, or sometimes have the occasional bloaty day.

It’s normal to have off days and occasional bouts where you lack energy and motivation. Sometimes it’s just a tinge of burnout or exhaustion that a week or two off might fix. Or maybe you’re beating back some kind of microbial attack.

What’s not normal is chronic, recurring problems that can’t be explained by a recent seasonal, dietary, emotional, or lifestyle change.

“But Felipe, these aches and pains are obviously not normal for you at just 30 years of age. Just wait until you’re my age, that’s when the real fun begins!”

You are totally correct, dear reader, which brings me to the topic of time and age: both huge factors which we often take for granted.

Our teens and twenties feel limitless and invincible. Being up all night working on a project or out with friends and sleeping in late is the norm, and juggling studies, work, and hobbies barely make it onto our personal tiredness radars.

As we age, however, our bodies change. We don’t sleep the same way, tolerate the same foods, or have the same amount of energy as we used to. These changes can often be slow and unnoticeable, but it’s guaranteed to happen. It sounds cliché, but enjoy every day to the fullest. Tomorrow you could have a cold, and only then will you be yearning for better days!

My Story

Once upon a time, my little aches, pains, or anomalies affected me more than they had in the past. I was incredibly tired all the time, and no amount of rest or vacation time had an effect on my body. I figured this was all due to taking on too many projects, while prepping for my wedding, while moving to a new home, while trying to get ready for Christmas and New Year’s!

Christmas came and went, but there was no change. January came and went as well — and again, no change. Once again, I figured things would improve later in February, after my wedding was over.

Things were just getting started.

The Epstein Barr Virus

Fast forward a month or two, and I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome caused by the Epstein Barr Virus. The TL;DR is that Epstein Barr is a virus for which there is no medication. I was told it could take from six months to three years for the virus to go away, and all I could do was eat more fruits and vegetables, perhaps get into juicing, exercise (which was ironic, considering I barely had any energy to get through half a day), and try therapy to cope with the discomfort.

How Did I Cope?

I followed my doctor’s instructions. I kept going to my therapy sessions, started juicing at home, improved my diet, received acupuncture, walked more, and tried to be as patient as possible.

The days were long, and the anxiety was at times unbearable. After six or months, I would have a few days in a row where I felt noticeably better. I wasn’t feeling 100% better, but it was an improvement. The key takeaway here is discipline. Even though taking care of yourself may not be the most enjoyable task, remaining disciplined can help your health and prevent issues in the future.

What I Learned and How it Motivated Me

It’s been over a year since my doctor reviewed my bloodwork and told me I was cured, but only now, two years since I was diagnosed, can I say I’m fully cured and have been without symptoms for a few months.

In the next few sections, I want to share with you what I’ve learned — the hard way — about taking care of my health.

Posture and Ergonomics

Maintaining a proper posture and ensuring your chair, desk, or work environment is as ergonomic as possible is the first step to taking care of your body.

Why You Should Care And Why It Matters

There are both short and long-term complications that can develop from not paying attention to posture and ergonomics.

For instance, conditions that come and go, such as tendinitis or repetitive strain injury, could become a chronic problem that could affect you for the rest of your life.

Even without going to such extremes, ignoring your posture could create the right conditions for a silly injury that could prevent you from doing your job for days, or even weeks.