Health issues you face being a Developer 🏥

Sarthak Sharma on April 12, 2019

You may be a JavaScript Developer or a Ruby Developer, but there is one thing common about us all, and it's the way we work. We all use computer... [Read Full]
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One thing that I do and suggest is to frequently take breaks and walk around. I wear a Fitbit and it nudges me every hour to get up and complete 250 steps. That kind of works for me.

I use stairs wherever I can & try to drink plenty of water.

I used to go to a gym every day but that habit got left out. Planning to start working out again.

It's very easy to get sucked in or wired in when you're enjoying coding something but sitting around too much will do a lot of harm in the long run.

Stay healthy.

 

Fitbit user, too. Problem is, I've got sensitive skin and, over time, the band starts to rub my skin raw. When not at the office (office has a "no PEDs" policy), I end up switching it between wrists a few times per day. And, while I have the steps-reminder thing enabled, when I'm working from home, it's mostly meaningless. I usually have music on, and by the time ten-before-the-hour rolls around, I've usually registered well better than 250 steps just because of tapping my hand to the music.

 

I've been having really hard times lately (for about a month) during which time I just couldn't make it to the gym. Restarting again is hard, even for me who used to work as a group exercise trainer. How I still restarted training was the strategy of baby steps: ie. starting with light and not-so-focused workouts where my only aim was to enjoy what I'm doing (and not necessarily hitting PRs, etc). After 2 or 3 occassions, I might be back on track again. :)

 

Gym was so much easier when I was a traveling consultant. Wake up before going to client site, roll downstairs to the hotel gym, do a quick 20-30 minute light weight-lifting session, return to my room to shower, then head to the client site. If the hotel I was staying at that week happened to have too many other guests doing the same thing, I'd usually switch my schedule to start the workout around 23:30.

Around here, the gyms are mobbed between 0530 and 0930 (and 1330 and 1930). And, while I should be able to work around that on my work-from-home days, the daily office-goers tend to schedule our meetings between 1000 and 1630 (with a lul between 1130 and 1300 in recognition that a lot of people tend to be unavailable due to lunch). Worse, meetings are subject to rescheduling, so getting on a fixed schedule is nearly impossible.

My substitute (when working from home) is, whenever I'm waiting for deployments to run, up the volume on my Chromecast speakers, get up, and do 5-15 minute dance-burns. Try to do it a couple times a day. EDM - especially dubstep and hardstyle, are great for that (and frenchcore is great if you really want to spike your heartbeat!).

I'm still a fatass, though.

 

That's awesome, Krisztina. Btw, how long have you been off workouts? I've been out of touch for like a year now. :-(

I agree with the baby steps approach.

I'm also thinking to start light bodyweight exercises at home first, get the hang of it again and then start going to the gym. :-)

It's been for about a (long) month for me. I'd suggest you just restart right at the gym - we may be different, but I can't really workout at home, it is just way too distractive! And I also like the "iron smell". :D You shouldn't be afraid of anyone mocking you (if this is your reason behind restarting at home). Those who do, don't have a clue about safe training. ;) (and otherwise, seriously, none of their business if you are starting out with lighter weights).

No, it's not about people mocking me. The gym is a little away from my home. Need to find the motivation to go there again. 😅

 

I use workrave sometimes.

It remembers you to take breaks and also gives you ergonomic advices and exercises.

 
 

I used to go to a gym every day but that habit got left out. Planning to start working out again.

All the best for that man from the fellow lifter.

 
 

I've encountered two health problems that i had to fix.

  1. Eye strain

I noticed quite quickly in my career that i got a growing headache as the day progressed. Glasses where the solution.

First i had a pair of Gunnar glasses (gaming brand) that had yellow tint and +0.25 strength that worked for two years. but after a while i noticed that that did not work anymore.
Now i have +2 in strength and require yellow tint on the glasses i use in-front of the computer.

  1. RSI

Started feeling pain in my lower arms, wrist and fingers especially when working on a laptop.
I solved this by starting to look at more ergonomic products. Started to use a split keyboard and external touchpad.
After some iteration I'm now at a setup that works really well for me.
Trackball, Keyboardio Model 01 and Ergorest supports.

I get a bit upset when workplaces try to save money on screens, keyboards, desks, chairs and such. That's one of the most important things for wellbeing and where we spend most of our time in the office.

 

Genetic predisposition to carpal tunnel syndrome. Had my first carpal tunnel release surgery (on my right hand) summer following my freshman year of college). Had to have the other one done not long after my 30th birthday. Upon my return, convinced my employer they could save on medical insurance outlays related to RSD by issuing ergo keyboards (even if only "on demand" rather than "everyone gets one").

Note to all reading this thread that work in offices that have a lot of hot-deskers: if you're a touch-typist who hates when people sit down and "adjust things" (and leave them "adjusted") – an ergo keyboard is pretty much squatter-bane.

 

Well said, Companies should take care of these things.

 

Most common problem which most of the people faced is with lower back and it will lead to some serious issues like Anterior pelvic tilt.

Anterior pelvic tilt is caused by excessive sitting or lack of physical activity. It affects posture and the shape of the spine.

If you are not physically active and ignoring stiffness and pain occurred in lower-back then you have to check your posture immediately .

 

This was a painful problem for me until one year ago. Then I did start to use an exercise ball as chair.

It seems that the muscles near the backbone are continually working in the moments where you move and unconsciously try to get the equilibrium state.

A year or more later, I have not experienced a single pain.

 

There's not necessarily a causal relationship here, but developers have a higher than average rate of depression and anxiety than the population at large. Keeping an eye on that and understanding what your rights are as an employee when it comes to mental health is super important. I highly recommend checking out Open Sourcing Mental Illness as a resource to learn more. They also do a census every year trying to bring awareness to the issue of mental illness in software. osmihelp.org/

 

It is definitely a topic worth to discuss.
For my eyes comfort and sight :D, I have downloaded flux which sets the tone color of your screen according to the local time you have.

I remember 2 years ago when I appeared in front of my friends and they could literally see veins on my ehh eye bags(sorry if the term is not correct, when you don't get enough sleep those bags under eyes ehh.. sorry for bad explanation xD but I hope you get the term) After I have installed flux my eyes felt really comfortable so that's the one I recommend for the Eyes.

Also, one thing that helps me out big time is going to the gym, if there is any stress that I felt in not being satisfied with my code or that something did not work the way I left it, you can take it all out in the gym :D
If you don't plan to go to the gym, then a walk on the fresh air will help.
Because always remember:

No Stress No Problems :)

 

Gym is part of my morning routine. It just fill you up with all the positive energy to start your day.

 

Agree, I would go in the morning, as I am from a small city we have only one Gym, and it opens at 12 PM so gotta wait till i can do those squats hehe :)

 

we all sit for long hours on a chair

I recently switched to a sit/stand desk and it has done wonders for me! I started by standing only part of the day and now I stand all day. My back no longer gets sore and my neck doesn't get stiff. Standing seems to align everything how its suppose to be for me. Highly recommend trying some mix of sitting and standing when you are starting out.

 

Standing desks sounds like a great idea, but I can’t stand up for over 20 minutes or I get terrible feet pain. I can walk for hours, but I can’t wait in line for a coffee or in a bank.
I’d be interested in trying one of those walking desks, with an integrated treadmill. Maybe it would be too much movement to focus properly? I don’t know.
Either way, stopping work to stretch and look out of a window at least for a minute every hour (I do every 20 minutes for 20 seconds) is great for back health and eye health as well!

 

Never been able to do stand-desks. The entire time I'm standing, my concentration is reduced by at least 70%.

 

Just make a commitment to workout every day, no matter what happens. Turn off all electronics during this period of time and just be okay with people not being able to reach you. Either they'll deal with it or you'll have to get another job.

As a side note, it's much easier to workout every day when you aren't stressed about money, so be sure to save a large portion of your massive developer income so you don't have to worry about losing your job because you decided to put health first.

We have it backward in this country. Health is your no.1 asset. If you don't exercise, your brain just isn't as good at solving problems. So any company really ought to be 100% onboard with their developers exercising 1-2 hours a day. In my view, those should be counted towards your working hours because they make you more productive.

Everything we do in our day, from cooking a good meal to getting on the bike, all of it contributes to the quality of our minds. Companies aren't paying you for hours. They're paying you for your mind. Make sure it is in excellent shape so you can produce your best work.

 

I am riding my bike to go to work everyday, which is almost 20 km total each day. It might sound a little extreme when it is in the middle of winter but, you also know, it feels a lot warmer when you are doing exercise. Higher cardio exercise is also good for eye health since it also regulates blood flow. Besides it is cheaper to commute, environment friendly (I guess, I also do not have a detailed study result about the overall greenhouse gas effect caused by bike transport industry :D) and cheaper.

The second thing I would suggest is, taking cold showers occasionally. It is very good for the immune system and also very helpful when you feel tired and need a kickstart for something.

Finally, I keep unhealthy food away from the desk. If it is easy to reach, it is very easy to consume. It is better to keep willpower for the solutions :).

 

Some of this has been mentioned, but exercise for sure and make sure to get up at least once an hour and hydrate.


King Julian from the Madascar movie

If you work from home, put plants in your office that purify the air, which reminds me I need to buy some new ones. 😉


Plant image

If you commute to work, use public transport if it's an option, or bike to work. Less cars on the road and you're getting free exercise on your way to work. Where I live, there is a city wide communal bike sharing service which I love.

I also go to an osteopath/chiropractor usually once a month to keep everything tip top. Even if you're not injured, there's normal day to day stuff that puts you body out of whack, e.g. slouching in your chair, leaning your head on your arm etc. I try to treat my body like a car. Make sure to give it tune ups. Obviously that one depends on your insurance at work, but use it if you have it.






 
 

I recently installed the app Pomy (on Mac) and it quickly became a new favorite. Basically, every 20 minutes it covers your screen for 20 seconds and recommends that you look away at 6m or 20ft. I get up and do a different type of stretching every time, depending on what I feel like doing. Sometimes jumping jacks, sometimes back stretch, etc. I also try to look out the window for part of those 20 seconds. It’s really not a long time so I always do it.
It also counts how many 20 minute work laps I’ve done, I’m using it to track productivity by writing down how many 20 minute laps I worked every day on my bullet journal.

For exercise, I’m rowing every day using a machine. It doesn’t matter how much, as long as it’s at least as much as yesterday.

And of course, constantly drink water and generally eat healthy and not in excess.

 

I drink a lot and going to get some water force me to stand up frequently so I take a quick break. I have an Apple Watch so if I’m too concentrated and forget to stand app I get the notification and I do take the break. Instead of going out for lunch I eat something quickly then I take a walk in one of the nearby parks. Usually I’m able to walk for 4 or 5 km while listening to podcasts so my eyes get some rest and it is good for my back too.

 

I've the fun combo of being both hyperopic and having fairly bad astigmatism. Seriously, each eye, by itself, has double-vision to the point that, absent glasses, the two lined are about half a letter-height offset from each other (and contributes to why, when I had my clear membership, the retinal scanner didn't work on me and they had to mark my profile as "blind"). Didn't used to be near the problem it is now when I was younger. Younger eyes sorta just "accommodate" for the defect. But, in my late 30s I started getting daily migraines and noticed that, after protracted video-game sessions, my focal point would get "stuck" at the distance from my couch to my TV (and would stay stuck for a couple hours).

For me, the underlying vision-defect and the loss of accommodation-capability that comes with aging has meant that I need a few different pairs of glasses. I have one pair that I use at the office: their focal-length is set for the distance I sit from my workstation's displays when working at the office. I have one pair I use when working at home on my laptop: their focal-length is set for the distance my laptop screen is when my hands are in a comfortable typing-orientation. And I have a third pair for normal reading (so I don't have to hold my book with my arms fully-extended).

Fortunately, being hyperopic means that I only need glasses when doing reading-type tasks. For just walking around, driving, etc., glasses mostly hinder my ability to see beyond a reading-distance.

 

i started to workout after work to help cut down on the time i spent in the car because it helps with traffic and i haven't felt this good in a long time

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