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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Tips on Good Posture and Ergonomics

Bad posture can lead to aches and pains that will eventually sap your energy and cost you productive hours at work and home.

As shown in the image, your arms and legs should be bent at a near-90 degree angle. You should also have some wrist support to help avoid repetitive-strain injuries.

  • Put your monitor/display at eye level so you don’t have to constantly tilt your head up or down to see it properly.
  • Maintain a proper distance between your eyes and the display; Otherwise, you will find yourself leaning forward, backward, or even slouching, which will cause problems in your neck and back.

    As shown in the image, your arms and legs should be bent at a near-90 degree angle. You should also have some wrist support to help avoid repetitive-strain injuries.

  • Ensure you have good lower-back support, and if you like, you could try a headrest as well.

For further reading: here’s a great article on five habits that can create bad posture.

Exercises and Remedies

Exercise is really good at healing and preventing problems related to posture in sedentary jobs, as programming jobs tend to be.

As you code all day long, you put a lot of stress on your back, neck, and all the muscles that are involved in maintaining your posture. Be aware of the signs of circulation problems, and learn how to sit to increase your circulation.

You don’t need to hit the gym twice daily or go all to feel the positive effects. A light walk every day, or even just several times a week, along with some simple crunches and push-ups should help keep you in relatively decent shape!

Here are some tips that can help you overcome the boredom of exercise:

  • Prioritize exercises and activities you actually like. If you prefer swimming to circuit training, or find walking more relaxing than running, then by all means do more of that.
  • Buddy up — exercise, run, or go to the gym with a friend. Mutual motivation and being able to chat with someone else are proven hacks that make exercise less tedious.
  • Mix technology with exercise. Your phone or smart watch likely has support for fitness tracking. The Apple Watch even has achievements that can be earned on specific holidays. With support for a plethora of indoor or outdoor activities, social features, water resistance, and even wireless music, smart watches are definitely a great way to stay motivated when exercising. Alternatively, you could take your cell phone or handheld gaming device on a static bike ride, or even catch up on Netflix while on the elliptical or treadmill.
  • Why not try exercise games like Just Dance? You can dance alone or with friends, burn calories, and have some fun! Pull the curtains tight if you’re concerned about neighbors catching a glimpse of you getting funky.

While I can’t deny that exercise can be tedious, I encourage you to try some of the above ideas — you’ll likely be more motivated and willing to stay active.

Home Remedies

When pain strikes and it’s too late for prevention, there are still some things you can do:

  • Try alternating hot and cold therapy that you can do yourself with a warm cloth or compress and ice pack.
  • Massages are another fantastic way to alleviate tension and stress.
  • Stretching exercises can do wonders in the long term. I’ve often had finger, wrist, or arm pain due to typing or playing video games, and stretching exercises have helped me recover faster and kept me feeling better, longer. These same stretching exercises are something you can do every hour or two throughout your work day to help prevent pain from rearing its head.
  • Finally, you can always resort to ibuprofen or a similar equivalent for pain relief.

One of my favorite resources on YouTube is Dr. Levi.

I’ve found the above video to be super-useful for preventing pain, or managing it when it strikes. Dr. Levi has several videos that cover different exercises you can do to stay healthy. He also has videos on exercises, prevention strategies, tips, and more.

Diet And Exercise

Have you ever felt super thirsty at some point in the day? Perhaps your lips are chapped. Or maybe you’ve been a bit constipated lately. These are signs you are dehydrated. Nutritionists usually recommend you drink half of your body weight in fluid ounces.

To give an example, my weight is around 145 lbs. So I take my weight in pounds (145) and divide it by two, which in my case comes out to 72.2 fluid ounces. To get that in quarts, simply divide by 32. So in my case the recommended fluid intake is 2.27 quarts.

The formula would be:

(weight in pounds / 2) / 32

This isn’t a strict rule, so do what works best for you and what you feel comfortable drinking. A good sign of drinking enough fluid is not being crazy thirsty, or if your urine is not super yellow/dark but is instead more towards the clear side.

One thing that helps me estimate how much water I’ve had in a day is using a water bottle. This way I know if I’ve gone through two bottles, it’s X amount of water, and so on.

The Importance Of A Good Diet

Living off Doritos and ramen? How is your body supposed to fuel your magnificent brain and sustain your body through a day of debugging on those empty calories? Weight gain, lack of energy, disturbed sleep, or not feeling like your usual self can be signs you need changes to your diet.

Think about your computer for a moment. You don’t just buy the cheapest, jankiest possible RAM out there, or some cheap, used hard drive, and shove it into your brand-new laptop. So why would you fill your body with processed foods filled with chemicals, fat and sugar, and rely on unnatural foods for fuel?

There are a few key things to keep in mind when it comes to food:

  • Choose natural, unprocessed, fresh foods whenever possible. If this sounds like more work than heating up a microwaveable pizza, then try planning your meals ahead of time. It’s helpful to keep pre-cooked foods in your fridge, or increase the portions you cook so that by prepping lunch, you have enough leftovers for dinner.
  • Keep your portions in check. It takes your brain about 20 minutes from your first bite until you get the “full” signal. Chew slowly, stay relaxed while eating, and try to stop before you reach the point of OMG TOO FULL. I like to stay a tiny bit hungry as this is an indicator that I’ve eaten just enough for my body to digest.
  • Snack in between meals; ideally, 2 to 2-1/2 hours after each meal. You won’t be as hungry when it’s time for a big meal, which reduces your chances of eating too-large portions, and the snack will help give you energy throughout the day. Snacks can also help prevent gastritis or stomach acids from damaging an empty stomach, and they can also help you lose weight by taming hunger.
  • Remember that snacks are just that — snacks — not a meal! Eat just enough to give your body a little fuel until the next big meal. But DO NOT snack mindlessly!
  • Apples, bananas, nuts, fruits, and veggies make great in-between snacks as they are easy to eat, require absolutely no preparation, provide nutrients and enzymes to your body, and are low-calorie.
  • Color and variety are key. Vitamins are found in abundance in brightly-colored fruits and vegetables. Eat many different foods to keep your diet varied, and unless your doctor has specifically prohibited certain foods, then feel free to occasionally indulge in heavy foods such as sweets, baked goods, bread, or fried food. Everything in moderation.
  • Start paying more attention to the nutritional details of the food you buy the next time you’re out shopping. You’ll be surprised at how much fat and sugar they can pack into something as simple as a sausage, ham, jam, or slice of bread!