Keeping healthy as a software developer with exercise
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Disclaimer: Hey! I'm no health practitioner - so please take what I say lightly. In this post, I will be aiming to share my journey over the past 5 years as a technical employee, and the impacts it has had on my body. Why do you want to read this? Because it could save you having to spend countless hours, and hard earned $$$$ trying to fix body dysfunctions.
As technology or business professionals, we're all guilty of spending long hours sitting. This can lead to all sorts of body dysfunctions, such as issues in the hips (tight hip flexors), hunched back, poor posture etc. Just about everyone I have spoken with suggests to * minimize sitting*, and after seeing the results of doing this, I can confirm it is good advice. However, I'm aware that we don't all have that luxury to walk around and still be productive while we're at work. This is not to say our career path is a poor choice, but there are trade-offs. Also sitting properly really helps to reduce posture related issues. Let's take a look into my journey, the injuries sustained, and the fundamental points I have learned from health professionals.
I was 21 years old, getting started with my first desk job. I have previously spent at least 2-3 years in the gym, and working in the hospitality industry (lots of walking). The average hospitality worker walks at least 23,000 steps per day, source here. It also means your body is always warm, and blood is always being pumped through your muscles and organs. Working in hospitality further facilitated my gym recovery as I was able to bring nutrients to my muscles much faster than when I was not moving frequently. At Least 3 months pass in my desk job, and I have been spending most of my days sitting and typing. Now my body has become stiff and my posture has been thrown out. The posture characteristics I had were Neck/Head moved forward, Anterior Pelvic Tilt and Tight chest/Internally rotated shoulders. Here is a full list of the injuries sustained throughout my journey to the current date.
- Torn both rotator cuffs
- Sprained back (multiple times)
- Lordosis in neck (C1, C2 of the spine)
- Torn mcl in the knee
- Problems with eyesight, breathing etc.
I believe the reason why these injuries occurred was for a lack of information really more than anything.
The gym is a great place to get in shape by losing weight and gaining muscle. But make no mistake, gym doesn't work unless you do. I have altered my workout routine more times than I change my socks. Honestly, I have tried many popular workout routines such as, 5-day splits, 3-day splits, powerlifting, calisthenics, 5x5 workout, starting strength, madcow workout etc. etc. What did I learn from these? Well first things first - It doesn't matter what you are doing, your body must maintain a good posture (form follows function). In my opinion, it is an absolute waste of time lifting weight if your posture is all out of whack. Your posture is suffering? See a physio, devise a plan, work hard at following it, and ?? profit. Once your posture is good, here are three simple rules that have helped me to get the most out of gym.
- Warm-up for everything (Always be moving)
- Stretch the muscles that are tight
- Relax (you're just at the gym)
Warming up before lifting is always a good idea. Most injuries occur when the athlete is cold. I have listened to this rule, and it has kept me injury free for at least 2 years. I spend more time than the average human just warming up, and I don't give a fuck - because it has kept me exercising regularly. Admittedly, I have fallen off the horse here and there (when deadlines or random things come up). The important thing is to keep going. The longest I have spent off exercising was close to 3 months - but I walked everywhere. This brings me to my next point, walk before you run. We're constantly getting fed advertising crap on the tele' that goes against a smart workout plan.
If your situation is that you spend most of the day on the computer, and rarely even walk, that's okay.. you just want to start walking more. Then after that, focus on running properly by running in a straight line, head up and focusing on your technique - after a while, you will naturally just get better and progress to running. But give yourself time. You may be active day-to-day, and not need this advice. Either way, be honest with yourself about where you're currently at.
I tend not to stretch my neck as I don't want to cause muscle imbalances. If there is a problem or pain, I seek advice from a physiotherapist. You should to. The final point I follow is to relax when training. This makes for a better training experience. Everyone is at the gym for the same reason (I hope), which is to improve their body and health.
Want a good looking body? Focus on Diet. Remember abs are made in the kitchen. Tuning your diet will most likely show you the best results out of anything. I have been the same weight for 2 years. What have I done? Cut out the Sodas, Burgers, Fast-food, all of the 'good' stuff. Be cool with not eating tasty food all the time. I have noticed that eating healthier makes you feel better for longer, opposed to getting an instant fix on a soda and feeling fuzzy or tired later.
Here's a kickstart to get your grocery list going...
- Chicken breast
- Brown rice
- Water (instead of juice/soft-drink etc.)
Attn foodies: Try turning up the creativity with healthy foods, get the best of both worlds. Here is more healthy foods that will make you feel 100% god-mode.
Being a technology professional and working a desk job has trade-offs. It can have impacts on your body. But being smart about it, listening to yourself, and tuning your routine can help your body and brain perform at a higher level. What have I found to work? Walking, running, healthy meals, stretching, gym, sports, moving around the office, stand-up desks and relaxing. I found doing these things have had a huge impact on my physique, vision, mobility and overall sense of well being. But good habits can be gone tomorrow - it is something that regularly needs readdressing. Remember, it is a win for you everytime you choose the healthier option.
Recommended product: Coding Essentials Guidebook for Developers