Staying Healthy as a Software Engineer
Health care is turning more and more eyes these days and rightly so. Most jobs these days require a person to be confined to his desk the entire day for 8–9 hours if not more. But, sitting at a desk all day and being healthy don’t always go hand in hand.
Studies show that sitting at your desk for long hours can have serious repercussions on your health and well-being. It increases your risk of obesity and many other conditions such as increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, increased belly fat and many more.
The situation gets worse for software engineers where we have to get into the “zone” or a coding spree sometimes to get work done. This has serious repercussions on our health and can lead to mental and physical exhaustion in the future if not taken care of. Let’s take a look at some of the risks of prolonged sitting at your desk.
It’s Bad for your Heart
A study has shown that men who spend 10+ hours riding a car or more than 23 hours watching television had 82% and 64% greater risk of heart disease. Due to prolonged sitting, the body burns less fat and blood circulation is poor.
Experts also say that people who lead a sedentary lifestyle and sit for long periods have a 147% higher chance of suffering a heart attack or a stroke.
Consistently sitting at one place and that too with a poor posture can seriously harm your back. More so if you sit on a chair not ergonomically designed for a good posture.
Poor posture can lead to compression in your spine discs leading to premature degeneration.
It affects your mental health
When you exercise your body releases a hormone called endorphin which interacts with your brain to reduce your perception of pain. Apart from this, endorphins also trigger a positive and euphoric feeling in your body.
That feeling when you complete a workout or a run is triggered due to this hormone called endorphin. There’s no surprise why the health care industry is seeing a boom these days with more and more people being aware of the benefits of exercise.
Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas that allows the cells of the body to use glucose as fuel or to store it as body fat. Leading a sedentary lifestyle can lead to increased insulin resistance in your body. When the body becomes resistant to insulin, it tries to cope by producing more insulin.
Over time these insulin production wears out and demand can no longer be met. This leads to a rise in blood sugar levels and a risk of prediabetes or type 2 diabetes.
Studies suggest that sitting for prolonged periods of time can develop a higher risk of cancer in the lungs, uterine and colon.
Sitting for long hours can reverse all your efforts in the gym. It can slow down your metabolism, which is responsible for burning stored fat in your body. Thus, leading to more and more storage of fat, especially around the belly. Hence, it might be a good idea to take a conscious look at your health care regime if you’re gaining weight even though you work out.
When you sit for long hours, blood can pool up in your legs. This leads to swelling, twist or bulge known as Varicose Veins. This is not a serious health problem but can cause a bit of pain.
Especially for us software engineers, we spend a lot of time hunched over our keyboards. This can lead to stiffness in your neck and shoulders. This is one of the main reasons for cervical pains.
Now that we’re aware of all the reasons why we should avoid a sedentary lifestyle and include physical activity in our health care routine we can take some simple steps towards healthier living.
It’s not necessary to run a marathon or take up farming to compensate for those sitting hours. Some simple workplace tricks would be enough to combat these problems.
Eat a healthy breakfast
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Eating a healthy fulfilling breakfast has long term benefits such as:
- Reduced risk of obesity.
- Reduced blood pressure.
- Lessens the risk of heart disease.
Breakfast kick-starts your metabolism, helping you to burn calories throughout the day. A study found out that those who made breakfast the largest meal of the day were more likely to have lower BMI than those who eat large at lunch or dinner.
Drink More Water
Drinking a glass of water 30 minutes before a meal is generally a good idea. It helps you eat a controlled portion. It is recommended to drink at least 8–10 glasses of water a day. Thirst often leads to incorrect stacking and increased hunger.
Carry a water bottle with you on your commute to the office if you have a long commute. You can also place a water bottle on your desk for regular sipping. Although I’d say it’s a good idea walking up to the water cooler and filling up your mug as it gives you a reason to get up and walk.
Take Hourly Breaks
Prolonged sitting can take a toll on your body. Taking regular breaks helps to improve focus and eventually productivity.
Walking up to the water cooler is a good idea to get some steps in. Do a couple of stretches while sitting at your desk. Here are some good resources on some of the exercises you can do at your desk:
- 10 Best Exercises To Do At Your Desk: Forbes
- Exercise at Your Desk: WebMD
- 20 Exercises to Do at Your Desk: Draxe
- 6 Simple Exercises to Do At Your Desk
These resources would help you to develop a good health care routine at your workplace without having to run a marathon!
Take the Stairs
This is probably the most cliched advice but it does help. According to a study getting in 10,000 steps a day is a good enough step towards better health.
But it’s difficult to do that for people with desk jobs. Hence it might be a good idea to take the stairs to get some extra steps in your day.
There is no reason to miss your workout. This is the single most important aspect of anyone looking to better their health care regime. More so if you have a desk job.
Workout sessions are probably the heaviest physical activity that you’d do all day as a software engineer, hence it’s a good idea to head to the gym before or after work.
Standing while working
The American Medical Association has asked employers to let their employees stand while working. This is the norm in some of the Japanese companies.
As already discussed, prolonged sitting is bad for your health. Hence, standing up while working is a good idea to get your metabolism going and burn some extra calories.
Eat more often
One should never starve on food. Often when you eat after a long time, you eat like a beast and end up taking in more than required. Hunger is your health care’s worst enemy. It causes you to lose focus and can lead to bad eating.
Eating in small portions often can be the key. Research proves that eating 5–6 smaller meals a day can prevent you from starving ever so you eat in a controlled manner and feel full.
Start a weight-loss club
This is a tip by Kyle Robbins from BrandingBeard.com
According to him, losing weight and staying healthy is easy when you’re doing it with everyone else. It makes you accountable to others so you think twice before slacking. When everyone is eating healthy, you’ll find it much easier to keep yourself on a healthy path.
Bike to work
If you live near to your workplace, it’s probably a good idea for you to bike, run or walk to work. This would also save you some cash on gas or public transport!
Here are some extras that you can follow for a better health care regime:
- Walk while talking on your phone
- Stand in public transports such as buses, metros, etc.
- Keep trash can away from your desk so you’ll have to get up to throw anything.
- Listen to audiobooks than sitting down to read whenever possible.
- Wash your hands often. You’ll get up more often and it’s anyway a good idea.
- Join a community or group. Like a football team with your co-workers.
- Prefer treadmill than a chair (of course if you have this luxury at your office).
This was a rather unusual article in AndroidVille where we talk about android development, but this was necessary keeping in mind the serious health risks that a desk job like Software Engineering poses. If you liked this effort then share it among your friends and colleagues.
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