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Internet Entrepreneurs, marketing specialists and SEO’s have a pretty bad reputation when it comes to health and to be honest, that reputation is often well deserved. For every Mark Zuckerburg there is peddling around furiously there is the stereotypical coder who sits for hours on end at a computer desk.
This lifestyle really is not very healthy. Not only are there serious health issues associated with living a sedentary lifestyle, such as increased risk of heart disease, obesity and diabetes, other problems may manifest in time, such as back problems and deterioration of eyesight.
As well as the generally sedentary lifestyle many web developers also have terrible diets, living on soda, pizza and other types of ready-made junk food. The poor diet and lack of exercise combined build a very unhealthy body. Although most people pass through their 20’s and 30’s with few problems, the health issues tend to build up slowly over time and then strike suddenly. Whether it is the development of crippling back problems, diabetes, digestive disorders or repetitive strain injuries, most of these conditions are very hard to reverse once they are set in.
So, what can you do to ensure that you are not a stereotypical coder? What action do you need to take to prevent yourself from transforming from a relatively healthy teenager with a passion for computers into a bloated, unfit walking health time bomb? In short, you need to learn to eat healthy and get some exercise.
Exercise Little and Often
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Exercise does not have to involve running 10 km or joining a gym. Really, exercise is better done a little bit at a time if you are generally desk bound. Many IT professionals sit for hours not because they are genuinely lazy but simply because they are totally engrossed in the work at hand. Hours pass without any thought. Morning turns into afternoon, then day turns into night, and amazing work is done but at the expense of the body.
So the first step in becoming a healthy IT professional is to make the effort to get up and exercise more often. It is also advisable to take a break from a computer screen at least once every hour for the sake of your eyes too. This can be as simple as taking a short walk around the office or up the road. Taking 10 minutes out to stretch your legs is really good. If you feel a little bit guilty about taking a 10 minute break just to get your limbs moving again remember that some smokers tend to take a 10 minute break every hour. If you are one of these people, maybe now is a good time to also try to kick the habit and go for a walk instead of a cigarette!
Morning and Evening Exercise
Another important tip is that if you are prone to spending hours sitting at a desk then make the effort to be active in the morning and evening. Get up 30 minutes earlier for a quick 15 minute run (followed by a cool down then shower) and then have a longer workout in the evening, maybe 30 – 45 minutes of cardio or weight training exercises.
Exercising twice a day helps you to increase your metabolism which ensures that your whole body is functioning more efficiently and will also help you to manage your appetite.
Eat a Healthy Diet
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A healthy diet is really important too. A healthy diet must include plenty of fiber from a wide range of fruit and vegetable sources. IT professionals, all desk workers in fact, tend to develop more digestive problems as they remain stationary for such long periods. Bouts of constipation or IBS are quite common in the developing community – although people tend not to talk about it.
A healthy diet is really quite simple, You do not need to buy a book to learn to eat healthy. Ideally you should plan your meals to prevent snacking on junk. Always start the day with a healthy breakfast to prevent the desire to snack before lunch. Each meal should include some fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and healthy fats. Fish is one of the healthiest choices, it provides lean protein, healthy fat and is good for the brain too – perfect food for programmers.
Some foods should be avoided as they tend to lead to weight gain and also interfere with the natural functioning of the digestive system. Highly refined and processed foods, which includes white bread, all flour based foods, ready meals and many tinned foods are really best avoided.
We all sometimes need to snack, so make sure that your snacks are healthy. This can be fruits, plain nuts (not nuts coated in sugar, honey or salt) or low fat cheese (e.g. cottage cheese). Snacks should be nutritious, they should really pack a punch – either vitamins or proteins – to boost health. To keep your body in tip-top shape you will need to do more than this – more exercise and a very healthy diet combined. But these tips should help you to stay generally fitter and healthier.
One last tip – if you are likely to simply forget to get up to stretch your legs or eat, then set up a schedule in Google Calendar to remind you!