How to Stay Healthy As a Programmer: Common Issues, and Tools to Help You Avoid Themby@MelvinTalk
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1,397 reads

How to Stay Healthy As a Programmer: Common Issues, and Tools to Help You Avoid Them

by Danny WesleyOctober 27th, 2020
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Programmers spend most of their time in front of the computer screen, mostly sitting. While their brain is actively working, their body does not, these are the most widespread health issues for programmers. These include Genitourinary system illnesses, prostatitis, hemorrhoids, back pain, thrombosis and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. These are common health issues programmers face and possible solutions to help you stay healthy. For example, stand up regularly (thanks, Apple Watch!) or go outside for exercise during the working day.
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Programmers spend most of their time in front of the computer screen, mostly sitting. While their brain is actively working, their body does not. Even worse, IT emergencies happen quite often, and engineers usually have to monitor systems or code instant fixes far outside regular working hours. All these factors may cause any number of health issues, all of which every IT professional should be aware of.

Today we will talk about the most dangerous health issues programmers face and discuss possible solutions to helping  you stay healthy.

Problem #1: Genitourinary system illnesses, prostatitis, hemorrhoids

Constantly sitting in front of the computer leads to central blood vessels and arteries being pinched by muscles and cartilage. But like any other fluid, blood is trying to find the path with the least resistance. This creates a blood stasis in the pelvic organs, leading to severe issues related to the genitourinary system (prostatitis, urethritis), rectum (hemorrhoids), and kidneys. Surprisingly, these are the most widespread health issues for programmers.

The problem worsens because most people just do not know how to sit right or what kind of chair they should use. For example, the pelvic bones in men and women are at different angles (65 degrees for men and 85 degrees for women). While sitting on a chair, the weight of the upper half of the body puts pressure on the pelvis and surrounding tissues, with only 8% of the body's surface area bearing all that pressure against the seat.

How to prevent these issues:

Get a chair that can be used for extended periods of sitting down . A person's height and weight significantly affect what kind of support he or she needs from a chair. While most chairs on the market have just two parts – a back and a seat – there are also products like HARAchair Nietzsche UD that have four pieces, i.e., two separate spring-loaded seats and a double back. 

This design helps to avoid pinching of the muscles and cartilages, improves blood circulation in the pelvic organs, and relieves the load on the coccyx and the entire spinal column. 

The orthopedic effect of having split halves at the back provides girth for the back in a semi-corset way and helps form the correct posture. The combination of these factors allows you to relieve tension and work longer than in most other chairs.

Problem #2: Back pain

Many office and remote workers face this problem. Sitting on an office chair for hours every day can lead to severe aches and pains. The lower back is the most affected part of the body. If such a lifestyle persists for years, bad posture can eventually damage the spinal structure. programmers are therefore at risk of ending up with a powerful and chronic pain.

How to prevent the issue:

Some everyday exercises should be carried out by everyone who spends a long time sitting at a desk. First, stand up regularly (thanks, Apple Watch!). Even short walks or periods standing up get your blood flowing and help prevent clots. Another thing to consider is purchasing a desk that can be turned into a standing unit. Autonomous is a great adaptable desk that can solve the problem:

Problem #3: Thrombosis

The sedentary lifestyle many programmers tend to have can cause thrombosis. This is when dangerous blood clots form and then travel to the brain or lungs, causing such events as strokes and other urgent medical conditions.

The association between  lack of mobility / prolonged periods sitting and venous problems ("thromboembolism") was recognized more than sixty years ago. The problem became evident in the age of emerging long-distance air travel. These days there is even the term "eThrombosis" referring to the particualar venous issues that IT professionals and computer users have.

How to prevent the issue:

Better blood circulation is a crucial factor in avoiding all those problems. An excellent way of achieving this is through sports activity. However, as it is may be hard for asoftware engineer to go outside for a workout during the working day, having a bike simulator like Peloton will make faciliate this kind of exercise. Even 5-10 minutes spent everycouple of hours will significantly reduce the risk of health problems.

Problem #4: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

This is another widespread problem that can be experience among millions of IT professionals. This syndrome occurs when the nerve in the wrist experiences continual physical stress and gets compressed. Symptoms vary from a burning or tingling sensation in the hand at the first stage to severe pain and decreased wrist mobility when the syndrome progresses.

How to prevent this issue:

Regular stretching of the wrists is useful for combating early symptoms. Also, having an ergonomically-optimized mouse, keyboard, etc. is crucial as well. You will need to learn how to type appropriately: wrists should be straight, and elbows at a 90-degree angle. Another great gadget that can help fight Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a mobile hand massager.

If it is near your keyboard, you can periodically put your hand there, and it will stretch the palm and fingers. 

Final thoughts

Spending many hours every day writing code, no matter what the time of day it is, will not  simply go unnoticed by the body. You must equip your workplace with everything you may need to maintain a healthy environment: 

  • You will need to stand up from time to time – so, the standing desk will be a great option. 
  • A healthy diet will help you control your weight, but having a chair that provides excellent support will help you keep your back in good shape.
  • Sports activities are crucial, so it is always a good idea to have some tools to help you spend your breaks in a healthy manner.
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is another common problem among programmers. It is crucial to fight it with ergonomic computer hardware, wrist stretching, and massage (and by using gadgets designed for this purpose)

Paying attention to these four things and eating the right food, staying hydrated, and maintaining the correct work-life balance will help you stay a productive and healthy engineer!