loading...
Cover image for 7 Ways To Stay Healthy As A Programmer

7 Ways To Stay Healthy As A Programmer

desoga profile image deji adesoga Updated on ・6 min read

A man who views the world the same at fifty as he did at twenty has wasted thirty years of his life. -Muhammad Ali

Introduction

The working environment of an average programmer entails sitting around a desk for long hours surrounded by gadgets. The reality here is that, there is a huge possibility of programmers developing certain health conditions and computer related injuries.

It is interesting to note that most programmers are more concerned about plugging away with writing lines of code than they are about their health.

I think lots of programmers do not prioritise their health as much as they should do. As professionals, it is pertinent to note that the physical well being of a person is just as important as the mental well being.

This is why I have put together a list of different ways in which programmers like you and I can keep ourselves healthy.

1). Hydration

Fluid is very much essential to staying alive. A key element to staying hydrated is water. In fact, the total amount of water in our body averages at 60% of our body weight.

Dangers Of Not Staying Hydrated.

  • Muscle Cramps.

  • Constant Headache and lightheadedness.

  • Sleepiness and a lack of tear production, which can lead to eye strain & vision problems.

  • Decreased urine output.

  • Kidney Stones(In the long run).

Life Hack

  • Drink a glass of water first thing in the morning.

  • Get a reusable water bottle on your desk and drink a full bottle of water before lunch and another full bottle before the day ends.

  • Increase your intake of spicy food. This naturally leads to increased intake of water.

2). Take Periodic Breaks

Taking a short break away from the computer is quite important and should not be ignored. Yes there is always a possibility of impending deadlines, developing a plan to handle complex tasks and also seeking for help when necessary could help prevent staying long stretch of hours on a given task.

Dangers Of Not Taking Breaks.

  • Limited blood flow to parts of the body such as the lungs.

  • Increased risk of high blood pressure.

  • Obesity.

  • Increased chance of bad body posture.

  • Body Aches.

Life Hack.

  • Take at least a 5 minutes break every hour. There are apps that you could use that serve as friendly reminders. Awareness is one of them.

  • Stand up to get lunch.

  • Staying hydrated. This will naturally lead to toilet breaks.

3). Avoid Developing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common condition that causes pain, numbness, and tingling in the hand and arm. Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs due to a pinched nerve at the wrist, called the median nerve. There are studies that suggest computer related work can lead to this syndrome. The syndrome can occur from the constant use of a keyboard or a mouse.

Possible Ways To Develop CTS.

  • Incorrect positioning of the hands when using the keyboard.

  • Wrong grip of the mouse.

  • Spending long hours a day(at least 12 hours) consistently, increases the chance of developing CTS

  • Bent wrist while sleeping or driving.

Life Hack.

  • Maintain the wrist and hand in a neutral position while using the mouse or keyboard.

  • Always remember to take a break.

  • Make use of an ergonomic keyboard and an ergonomic mouse could help reduce fatigue and pain in the hand.

  • Doing a Median nerve gliding exercise

4). Caffeine Addiction

There is a quote that says A Developer is an organism that turns coffee into code. Caffeine is a natural stimulant most commonly found in coffee, tea and energy drinks. It works by stimulating the brain and central nervous system, thereby helping you to stay alert and preventing the onset of tiredness. If taken in moderate amount, it can be highly effective and increase the level of focus and productivity.

Due to the extra energy it provides, this makes it easy for programmers to get addicted to drinking too much Caffeine. This however defeats the effectiveness of the stimulant as the body could adapt to it and then it becomes no longer effective.

Dangers Of Being Addicted To Caffeine.

  • Irregular sleeping pattern and limited sleep time

  • Restlessness and anxiety.

  • It may promote migraines and high blood pressure.

Life Hack.

  • Limit your intake of coffee to 2–4 cups of coffee per day(400 mg).

  • Keep a bottle of water close to your desk.

  • Limit your intake of soft drinks and energy drinks.

5). Watch Out For Back & Neck Pain

The nature of the job of a programmer involves sitting in front of a computer system for a long stretch of time. Sitting for long period of hours is a major cause of both back and neck pain. Overtime, this pain could make you uncomfortable anytime you sit in front of a computer to work,leading to a decrease in the level of productivity.

Symptoms of Back & Neck Pain.

  • Numbness of the leg or tingling above or below your knee.

  • Continuous aching in the middle or lower part of your back, especially after standing or sitting for an extended period.

  • Sharp shooting pains or a dull aches in your neck.

  • Shoulder pain.

  • Rising up from the bed become difficult or impossible.

  • Numbness in the arm.

  • Sharp, shooting pain that radiates from your low back to your buttocks, down the back of your thigh, and into your calf and toes.

  • Sharp pain in your lower back.

Life Hack.

  • Performing Aerobic exercises, this helps with overall fitness and strength.

  • Stretching at regular intervals.

  • Ensure to have enough Vitamin D and calcium in your diet.

  • Use prevention strategies to keep yourself healthy and injury-free, by creating an ergonomic environment.

6). Develop A Stress Management Technique To Manage Computer Stress

Computer stress is a feeling of anxiety and nervousness experienced by an individual when their computers work in a different way than expected. For programmers this is a constant occurrence, because the code you write will most likely not work correctly at the first attempt. This can lead to serious health problems and a decrease in productivity.

Situations That Can Lead To Computer Stress

  • Slow Internet connection leading to frustration.

  • Working constantly for unreasonable long hours.

  • Poor project management technique.

  • An Unhealthy working environment.

Life Hack.

  • Performing regular exercise.

  • Meditation.

  • Good internet access.

  • Getting enough sleep and rest.

  • Reduce screen brightness which could lead to eye strain.

7). Develop a Healthy Diet

There is a popular adage that says You Are What You Eat. Creating a good healthy pattern is one best decision a programmer can make. A healthy diet makes your body function at its' peak, which leads to having a healthy brain, leading to improved productivity. It is pertinent for a coder to show a strong interest in nutrition and a healthy diet.

Disadvantages Of Having An Unhealthy Diet.

  • Increased chance of gaining extra weight(obesity) due to spending a long time on the computer eating junks.

  • Increased chance of getting certain illnesses and other health related problems such as tooth decay and high blood pressure.

  • A High chance of reduction in level of productivity.

  • An unhealthy diet can contribute to stress.

Life Hack.

  • Pass up the chance of junk food and alcohol as much as you can because they’re not good for your brain function.

  • Include fruits and vegetables in your diet.

  • Intake of high quality supplements like fish oil, vitamin D, vitamin C.

  • Staying hydrated.

  • You can also adopt a ketogenic diet.

Conclusion

It is worthy to note that things like healthy food, exercise, movement, hydration & stress management are critical to all animals — not only humans. You may not see the effect of not taking good care of your body now, but what happens 5 to 10 years from now when your body eventually takes a toll due to years of neglect?

Prioritizing your health improves the overall quality of your life, both now and in the future.

Please drop a comment and add to the list on what programmers can do to improve their health, as I believe this topic is not discussed enough. Thanks.

To get more free content on web development, subscribe to my newsletter:
here

Discussion

pic
Editor guide
Collapse
tttfifo profile image
Todor Todorov

Hi deji,

Really nice stuff collected in 5min read! I recommend your post to every developer!

I cannot stress enough 1) Hydration and 2) Take periodic breaks.

For 2) Take periodic breaks I would also recommend to take one day "off the screen" per week - no laptop, no tablet, no social media for a whole day. And do whatever makes you happy.

About 5) Back & Neck pain - believe me or not all of us have some degree of neck trauma due to our everyday work. I would recommend googling for "restore neck curve" and find exercises to do every day.

Thank you for collecting this at one place!

Collapse
desoga profile image
deji adesoga Author

Thanks very much Todor, I appreciate your reply. Taking an "off the screen" once a week sounds like a very good idea, I'll certainly work towards that.

I'll also look into "restore neck curve".

Collapse
aaronranard profile image
Aaron Ranard

Agree with being careful of caffeine intake. I recently detoxed from caffeine and although it came with a week of intense headaches I feel more alert now for the entirety of the day, rather than needing constant boosts. Once I found out the headaches are from increased blood flow to the brain I felt better about having them. Who wouldn't want increased blood flow to the brain?

One thing I'd add to the stress management section is to increase the font size in your code editor. I increased my editor's font size to 16 recently and feel like I'm squinting so much less, which I'm sure will help reduce eye strain in the long run.

Great article!

Collapse
tttfifo profile image
Todor Todorov

Aaron, wishing you to enjoy your caffeine-free life :)

I also detoxed from caffeine few years ago and I feel better since.
One more think I spotted is that without caffeine I am staying more hydrated, because coffee is a diuretic an drinking too much of it de-hydrates you.

About your comment for editor's font size - I recently made an effort to increase my font size, also fine-tuned my font shape, color scheme and syntax highlighting of my editor. I found it awesome and the headache when I work more than 10 hours in a row disappeared.

Thank you for sharing this!

Collapse
desoga profile image
deji adesoga Author

Thank you Aaron. I'll definitely look into the font size my code editor. I reduced the font size earlier this year to a font size of around 12. I've not noticed any discomfort with my eyes yet, but I agree it could eventually lead to eye strain.

Collapse
imyke profile image
Michael Ajala

This is awesome.
I know because, in retrospect, this was why I nearly left tech about a year ago. And, this is also why I now know that, right hardware, flexible work hours and environment - and all that, tech is where I wanna be. I've learned (somehow) to manage all the elements in this article. I hope someone else finds it too.

Collapse
desoga profile image
deji adesoga Author

Thanks for sharing your thought and experience.

Collapse
codecesar profile image
Cesar Hernandez

@deji Great post I am new to the world of programming still a student you could say and it’s nice to know an advance what to look out for!

Collapse
logudotcom profile image
Loganathan Natarajan

Very useful article.

Collapse
desoga profile image
Collapse
iamnotstatic profile image
Abdulfatai Suleiman

Hi adesoga,

Really nice article ! I recommend your post to every developer!

Collapse
junopaulo profile image
junopaulo

Fast internet of course 😂

Collapse
desoga profile image
deji adesoga Author

Hah, ha. Anytime any-day.

Collapse
adisco4420 profile image
Sodiq Alabi

Nice post. This is very informative.

Collapse
desoga profile image
deji adesoga Author

Thanks Brother.