I was fortunate enough to attend RailsConf 2017 in Phoenix, AZ. Me and my friend-fellow gapper Eugene spent three days listening to keynotes, attending different sessions and participating in various workshops. While there were many great topics and speakers, one of the most talks I found most impactful was about (surprise) developers wellness! This speech induced me making a list of things that make developers healthy.
Developers spend more than 40 hours a week sitting at the computer. Many develop chronic back pain because of sitting in the wrong position or bad ergonomics of the chair. Even if your workplace is equipped with high-quality and comfortable furniture designed with ergonomic requirements in mind, keeping your body in the right position is very important.
Here are basic rules when you sit:
- Legs: don't cross them
- Back: lean back in chair, shoulders spread out
- Hands: bend just over 90 degrees, don't put elbows on table
- Eyes: distance to display at least your outstretched arm
You can check the strength of the dorsal muscles with the help of the Kraus-Weber test.
One of the solutions is to work while standing. In fact, standing desks really exist. Just remember that it takes time to get used to the new workspace situation. It is recommended to work alternately standing and sitting, gradually increasing time in a standing position. By the way, when you work standing up, the body burns more calories!
Each and every developer has faced a challenging deadline at least once. Many developers work in the evenings and nights, and end up going to bed way after midnight.
Sleep is an important part of the life rhythm. Some people need 8 hours, others are "short sleepers" and feel alert and refreshed even after 6 hours of sleep. The key point is to have the same amount of sleep, go to bed and wake up same at the same time every day. Sufficient and the same amount of daily sleep significantly improves focus, improves the immune system, and even improves memory. It is necessary for the body to have scheduled time to recover from the previous day, to "recharge" the brain, to eliminate all kinds of damages and remain active.
You are what you eat.
– Anthelme Brillat-Savarin
Being immersed in writing code, the developer sometimes does not notice how time flies by. The code can be written for hours and hours, especially when you are on a streak (or behind schedule). The plan is to eat right after finishing writing that function, but you end up drinking coffee the whole day and having dinner before bed.
Food is the fuel not only the body, but the brain, which is much more important for developers. Our body spends 26% of basal metabolism energy to maintain muscle tone, 25% to liver functioning, and almost 18% for the brain activity. It is hardly worth mentioning that proper nutrition is a guarantee of health. Here are some important things to always keep in mind:
- Schedule and balance metabolism by eating at the same time of day, brain will get charged more regularly
- Have dinner at least 2 hours before going to bed as body should not handle the food during sleep, your body needs to rest
- Never miss breakfast and lunch
- Lower consumption of caffeine-containing beverages and simply stay hydrated
The advice to do physical exercise on a regular basis may seem completely obvious, but for some reason most developers often forget about it or simply ignore it. But it very important for staying in shape. You've got to move! Maybe walk or bike to work?
Your future self will thank you for regular physical exercise. Your coworkers will enjoy your mood since endorphins make for a reliable companion. The latter is especially important for developers working in high stress environments.
What's a Developer to do?
Sleep, diet, and excercise – those are things that form the foundation for developer's health. Another extremely important part is routine; think about your health on a regular basis, day after day. Pick up that mobile device, or even your desktop, set alarms, timers, reminders, events, and notifications until one day your discipline becomes habit. Those good habits will let you manage not just your time, but also your energy, and in turn will make you and your life healthy!
Healthy developer makes healthy software.
– Developer's folklore