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Software engineering is a great career to be in because we get to build amazing things without having to get up from our chair.  However, that is also the problem with our profession... we don’t get up and out of our chairs often enough.  I’m not a health expert, but I’m pretty sure our bodies were not built to sit for long periods of time.  I know it is hard to step away when you’re in the “programmer’s zone” or intentionally trying to display your “productivity” to your supervisors.  The reality is that this type of sedentary behavior will result in future health issues and possibly a shorter lifespan.  Here are a couple suggestions that can help you repel frequent doctor visits and/or the grim reaper:

  1. For 4+ days a week, strive to workout for at least 45 minutes.  It could be running, lifting weights at the gym, basketball, MMA, badminton, curling, or whatever that can get you moving.
  2. The first suggestion is highly unlikely for the most of us, so the second best thing to do is to increase your activity during work.  
  • Walk to your nearest Starbucks or Coffee Bean with your coworkers a couple times a day.
  • Get up and walk around your office building every one or two hours.
  • Get a standup desk.  These are normally very expensive, but if you google around, you’ll find many promising homemade solutions.
  • Use a workout ball as a chair.  This will engage your core muscles throughout the day.  A couple  of my colleagues have workout balls as chairs and they seem fitter than most of us in the office.


You should also be mindful of your diet.  Stay away from eating too many pizzas, burgers, or other fast foods that we tend to love.  Occasionally replace your Quarter Pounder or your Double-Double Animal Style(for those of you on the West Coast) with a salad.  Also, don’t drink too many of those energy drinks, sodas, or other diabetes-in-a-can.  Even if the drink is sugar-free, it’s essentially replacing the sugar with chemicals.  Stick with plain coffee or espresso if you need a caffeine fix.

I’m sure I haven’t enlightened you in any way and you’ve probably heard this many times before.  Even so, I encourage all you software engineers to try and live healthier so that when your “next Google” idea takes off, you’ll be physically capable of enjoying the gazillions of dollars that you’ll be making.

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Comment by Ho Leung Ng on July 5, 2012 at 5:40pm

Taking regular breaks and stretching is also important protection against developing repetitive stress injuries!

Comment by Douglas Ching on July 2, 2012 at 2:32pm

Good advice!  I like stand up desk set ups because it promotes movement and prevents drowsiness.

Comment by Chris Sass on June 29, 2012 at 3:33pm

+1 for using a workout ball chair :)

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