My three tips for maintaining fitness and a healthy lifestyle as a software developer

Ben Halpern on June 14, 2017

We all know the benefits of physical fitness on our lives. But despite how much we know about the need to stay fit, I've found that us software dev... [Read Full]
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I loved this article, there are 2 points that I would like to comment.
1) In my mind, I'm a fanatic of health life, but it costs me a lot to live a healthy life. There are weeks that I eat well and I go to the gym every day, but there are others where I do nothing and eat everything. I feel that I start to lose energy and become depressed more easily when I eat badly and do little exercise.
2) It is very difficult to go to the gym if you don't like or if you don't have any motivation, I think what is important is to find some activity that we like and that when we practice it we can forget everything and relax the mind.


I really resonate with #1. I definitely get into a depressive funk when I've not exercised in a while.

I loathe actually going to a gym though - driving there, changing, being in a room with all those people, feeling self-conscious the whole time... A few years back I found the book You Are Your Own Gym and started working through the exercises in there. It's great, I can exercise whenever I want in my own basement and I don't need any fancy equipment. I still have a problem being consistent with it, but at least I will actually do it sometimes :)


My workplace is on the third floor and I find my brain a lot more alert early in the morning when I use the stairs instead of elevator. I also made it a habit to get up every 1-1.5hrs, go to the break room and do a couple sets of push-ups and stretching exercising. Just light-weight stuff that help keep me alert throughout the day.


This is such an important topic! I struggle with letting myself get sucked into a project I'm working on for hours on end and never moving more than 20 feet away from my desk. It's easy to try pushing through a code issue until I'm mentally exhausted and have gotten nowhere. It can be hard sometimes, but stepping away and moving my body always results in me feeling energized, refreshed, and ready to return my focus to what I was working on. I usually have a better perspective on what I was trying to do after stepping away for a bit, anyway.


I found the same thing to be true! As a coder we tend to focus on our minds and our bodies come second. Another factor is sleep. I've had too many nights getting only 3-5 hours and then relying on energy drinks to get me through the day. It was really unhealthy and when the weekend came I could barely move. I suppose it also depends on the company culture but it's important to realise that just because others are doing it, it doesn't have to become your norm. I like to experiment with things and I don't enjoy gym so I've been trying to see it as something like good hygiene. Focus on a muscle group and train to failure - Bodyweight exercises or dumbbells. A workout takes about 15-30 minutes and doesn't have to be a big deal - getting changed, driving to gym etc. Also put a boxing bag in my study which also helps with cardio and getting rid of stress :-)


I bet that boxing bag is helpful whenever faced with a bug !


It's the best, and saves some wear and tear on my keyboard ;-)


As a cancer survivor I now appreciate life more than ever. Even though I've been physically fit most of my life just before the cancer I was not exercising much. A friend at the time started to tell me "your body is a part of your project too". After being very sick I finally got it!

I take a lot of minute vacations but am not big on naps. Also, taking a day or a few away from the screen can work wonders and you tackle things with more vigor. I'm always wishing things could be done yesterday but life is rich and will offer you balance.


Good tips. Another mental game I play is convincing myself that if I go to train early in the morning, before work. I've already conquered the toughest metal challenge of the day. So I can tackle my dev problems with a clear mind.


Yes. Yes. I've been working out during most of my lunches for my 30+ years as a coder. I prefer cycling, but I hit the gym for weights two days a week. I do the tech podcast thing as well. My lunch workout really clears my mind. I would never give it up.


i would argue that although physical activity is super important, the healthy habits in your workplace are as important, if not more.

I see a lot of guys exercising a lot every day, yet in front of the computer thay don't care at all about position, about back, hands and legs. In few years time, even if you are fit, you will get problems with knees and back.

Thats why i strongly recommend standing desks. Oh my, they are so good. First timers may see it difficult and painful for the first week, but after that it is just much better, and work is much more efficient


Agreed. I played basketball while working 8 hours a day at my desk and the back pain was ridiculous! All from poor posture and terrible ergonomics at work.


Just started my fitness journey .... I’m down 25 Pounds and counting ..... it’s easy to get out of shape as a dev if you’re not careful and I love your mindset approach to fitness 💪 thanks for sharing 🙏


I started practicing Qigong almost daily, and the benefits are incredible. My entire body is better, and my concentration got better as well.
Now I'm feeling the need to do something more intense, like weightlifting or jogging.


Totally agree that one's intellectual and professional effectiveness is tied to physical exercise. I've found a few things about working out that help me. 1) it relaxes me and allows me to focus on what's truly important in a task and 2) it actually boosts my energy and often gives me a second wind -- the two or three hours after working out are often ones that would otherwise be a tired/sluggish time for me.


There's a free book on Kindle called Never Binge Again - it's about recognizing your body's negative desires as negative, and therefore counter-productive to your goals. I don't know that I buy everything in there wholesale, but the concept has helped me to identify impulses I have (usually to eat something calorie-laden) as something that's sabotaging my health goals.


I think this is the most common problem that almost all IT professional experimented or will experiment. As your text said, this is not not a question of beauty, but health. The bonus of this habit is a gift! Congrats for this interesting text.


if I'm feeling frustrated, in a rut, lonely, etc. I use that as a cue to do a bit of exercise.

Definitely agree with the whole "replace bad habits with good ones." I also noticed with myself that if I go immediately (less than 5 seconds) and don't give my brain any time to talk me out of not doing exercise, I always end up exercising.


I started swimming a few times a week about 3 or 4 months ago and I'm really happy and surprised at my progress! I've gone from barely scraping 10-15 lengths to doing 70+ in well under an hour with bags of energy to spare. It's great to unwind with swimming, the repetitive motion means I can focus my mind on other things (aside from counting lengths, of course) and sometimes that stuff might be work related or might not. A while ago I left work with a big nasty headache that I'd had all day, I was reluctant to go swimming but in the end I decided to and after half an hour in the pool my headache had lifted and my mood with it. I needed to get my head out of the computer, literally and figuratively and it was perfect.

I'm also walking to and from work most days which is around 5 miles, I use this time to squeeze in the odd podcast or just enjoy some music and set myself up for the day. I ditched the car back in the summer to improve my fitness but walking also helps wake me up for the day ahead.

Oh and thanks Ben for linking to the Tim Berners-Lee book. I'm definitely going to check that out.


Good to see more promotion of healthier living

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