In my practice, I have seen many software professionals approach me with a multitude of health problems.
These do not just include the usual coughs and sneezes, but many of them are linked to the job itself.
I thought I would briefly discuss some of the common health problems software engineers face, and 8 ways software professionals can stay healthy.
Long Hours And Too Much Traffic
This is probably the most common reason why software professionals end up having health problems. I believe it is the root cause of all of their problems.
Just a few days ago, I was talking to a friend (and patient) about how long they traveled to and from work and how long they worked every day.
He stated that he started out from home at around 6:30 am, traveled for nearly 2.5 hours to the outskirts of the city, worked till 6:30 pm and then reached home only at 9 pm at night.
That’s nearly 5+ hours of commuting to work each day – 5 days a week. Fortunately, he would get weekends off to spend time with his family, though there were times when he would have to work from home as well.
This in itself is sufficient to lead to health problems, mostly due to the following reasons:
- Insufficient time to exercise in the day
- Missing meals or eating food at odd times
- Sedentary lifestyle – a large part of working in software companies includes sitting in front of a computer
- Snacking in between meals
- Some people drink excessive coffee to plough through the workload
- Long commutes exposes one to pollutants in the air for longer, especially those using two-wheelers
So what can this lead to?
- Heart disease and a higher risk of heart attacks
- Deep vein thrombosis
- Some forms of cancer linked to lack of exercise
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Repetitive strain injury to joints in the hands
- Stress, anxiety and depression
- Low back ache
- Poor sleep
- Eye strain – sometimes called computer vision syndrome
This is just the tip of the iceberg. The lack of exercise and poor diet can also lead to lowered immunity, leading to an increased risk of developing infections.
8 Ways Software Professionals Can Stay Healthy
Okay, I am not going to use the constantly repeated statement here and say ‘diet and exercise man!’, but instead would like to offer a few simple tips that could help keep the body physically fit.
Sip On Green Tea
Green tea has been proven time and again to have multiple health benefits. It is enriched with anti-oxidants and has weight loss properties as well.
To obtain the true benefit of green tea, you will have to consume 4 to 5 cups a day. I generally recommend sipping on it mid morning, post lunch, mid evening and even post dinner.
You can still have your morning cup of coffee, unless that is not your thing.
These days, some people enjoy green tea after meals, as there may be some added benefit of calorie burn and weight loss.
Get Off Your Bu** Once Every Hour
Sitting for long hours has been clinically proven to increase your risk of heart disease. In fact, some places have adopted a ‘standing’ workplace ethic, where employees need to stand and work instead of sit all the time.
Apparently, you even think better on your feet, so it adds to productivity.
But if standing is not your thing, then make sure you get up once an hour, stretch your muscles and take a brief walk. This will keep your joints supple and prevent unnecessary aches and pains.
Take The Stairs
With every step you climb up, you burn 0.17 calories. Similarly, with every step you climb down, you burn 0.05 calories.
I remember in my college days in the 90’s, I would climb up 7 floors to the lecture hall, and would do it with ease. Never really bothered about number of steps, etc back then – I would just do it. Used to even walk around 5 km a day and then play an hour of basketball on top of that.
But of course, as we get older and get busier, that is not really that easy to do.
Staircase climbing has been described as an ‘inconspicuous way of burning calories’. Interestingly, the number of calories you burn when you climb one step at a time is the same as what it would be were it two steps at a time.
Whenever you get a chance, climb stairs. I have seen people who are perfectly capable of climbing stairs take the elevator or escalator for a single floor.
Its time to change that.
Follow The 20-20-20 Rule
The Mayo Clinic 20-20-20 rule is applicable to all those who stare at a computer screen for long hours.
Time and again, it has been shown that extended lengths of screen time can be harmful to the eyes.
In order to prevent damage to your vision, every 20 minutes, stare at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This will allow rest to your eye muscles, and reduce glare on the retina.
Stop Using Devices Late At Night
Devices such as mobile phones emit blue light.
Blue light has been shown to lead to macular degeneration, a condition where there is gradual visual loss over time.
This is particularly important for children, so try keep them away from mobile devices as much as you can.
But that’s not all.
Using mobile devices and tablets late at night can lead to insomnia. The bright light makes the brain think it is still day time, making it difficult for it to shut down.
Switch off your mobile devices an hour or two before you plan to go to bed. Your sleep cycle will remain uninterrupted in such circumstances.
Do Your Suryanamaskaras
Yoga is a great way to stay healthy.
I have personally felt that when it comes to fixing health problems in software engineers, the Suryanamaskara remains the best exercise.
The bending, twisting, breathing and the entire physical nature of the exercise can prevent a multitude of health problems with ease.
For those who are busy, I recommend 10 rounds in the morning and another 10 at night. If you have a little more time, then try and sneak in at least 50 a day.
It won’t take long.
Use Public Transport And Get Off 2 Stops Early
Instead to driving to work or using a two-wheeler, take public transport.
By doing so, you are reducing your carbon footprint and lowering pollution in an indirect manner.
If you wish to get some exercise at the same time, get off a couple of stops before your workplace and walk. Do the same on your return.
This way, you get some exercise every day.
It all adds up to long term benefits, believe me.
Take Up A Sport On The Weekends
If you are lucky enough to have free weekends, make sure you take some time out and participate in some sports.
This could be table tennis, badminton, running, swimming, cycling, trekking or anything that takes your fancy.
You will burn calories, pump up your muscles and keep your heart fighting fit.
These are some simple ways software engineers can stay healthy. If you have any more suggestions, please do leave them in the comments below!
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