Every programmer knows the problem: you curse the weight scale in the morning, because it started moving towards the 200 pounds again… The cause is simple: we sit on your ass all day doing nothing and hardly do any exercise. Luckily, we have some great suggestions for exercises any programmer should be able to do.
Above all else, try to get outdoors more. We spend 8 hours a day working behind a desk and maybe the same amount of time when we get home. Getting outdoors means you get some fresh air and probably means you won’t be sitting and we all know sitting is killing you.
My own personal favorite is swimming, because it makes you use your arm in a totally different way. It also strengthens your arm and shoulder muscles, which hopefully let’s you bear the stresses of working with stretched out arms all day. Especially focusing on backstroke is good, because when sitting behind the desk, you’re ‘exercising’/using your breast muscles more, so training the back muscles helps balance that. Furthermore, swimming is like a master-combo of all the arms movements anti-RSI campaigns make you do!
Cycling is another great choice, if only because its less straining for the knees when you’re overweight. (Did you know we even have a dedicated Stack Exchange site for cyclists?) Cycling is also a great way to commute, if the distance isn’t too large. Note that cycling doesn’t necessarily mean you have to go all Armstrong on yourself and race around. Simply cycling at a moderate pace is a decent workout and means you don’t arrive at your work sweaty and all. Besides cycling to your work means you’ll get a regular amount of exercise and you can’t skip it, because you can’t really skip work
For those who prefer to get stay warm and dry, going to the gym is an excellent choice. You can either do some cardio on the machines or lift some weights. Doing squats, deadlifts, bench presses, back extensions, side bends help strengthen your muscles and will soon make others see you’re working out, which is good for the narcissistic programmers…
If you don’t have any facilities around and can’t go outside, there’s always P90X, Tae Bo or circuit training. These are great all-round workouts that anyone can do in their own living room. They also tend to mix both cardio and strength exercises, which means you’ll lose weight, build muscles and improve your balance/posture. Alternatively, you can play Kinect games like Your Shape or Dance Central to please the geek in us.
Don’t like weights? There’s always yoga, which has quite some things going for itself. Sitting means your joints will be rather stuff and your muscle will be pretty tight, stretching them intensely will help correct your position. Yoga helps strengthening your core, posture and balance. This will help you reinforce a proper posture and make it easier to sit up straight without getting yourself a hernia. And when you feel like you’re living in a Dilbert comic, yoga is a great way to relief from your stress. It might even give you some good exercises you can do while working, to keep RSI and stress at bay.
Even though all exercises focused on your whole body, let’s not forget our eyes. Staring at a screen all day is pretty strenuous and a major source of head aches. This page has a bunch of exercises you can do to help your eyes relax. Among them are cupping your eyes with warmed up hands, alternating focus at different depths than your screen and head rolls.
Try to do different workouts, especially when you don’t have a specific goal in mind like running a race. Without a goal, there’s no real need to get particularly good in one sport, instead you should experiment and try to find something you enjoy doing regularly. Remember that the goal is to change your lifestyle to be more active, focusing on short term advantages will seriously hurt your enjoyment in the future. So take it slow and do something you love to do!
Join a team if you know you have a bad habit of quitting without any social pressure. When playing team sports its often far more difficult to quit, because you don’t want to leave your team mates down. Another benefit is that exercising in a group means you’ll motivate each other, even when you aren’t feeling like working out. For the competitive ones among us, having team mates means a whole bunch of people to beat!
Remember to take it easy! If you haven’t done any exercise for quite some time, chances are your fitness is very low. Doing too much, too fast can cause injuries! Furthermore, working out very hard with a poor physical condition is almost a guarantee of having terrible muscle soreness the next day. If you have to endure that for several weeks: not very motivating! Instead of rushing to get fitter as quickly as possible, focus on getting in better shape gradually. You’ll be able to workout much longer or harder in a couple of months, if you rush it, you’ll probably not be able to work out at all!
I hope these tips will help you all and if you have any questions about them, be sure to check out the Fitness Stack Exchange.
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