healthy developer

When working from home, Instructional Designers and Developers can easily fall into a routine that involves a lot less getting ready for the work day and a lot more getting straight to work – which can be problematic for many of us who call home their office. For myself, I know I am guilty of rolling out of bed, letting the dogs out, then promptly getting to it. The coffee gets made as I check emails from my phone, and I’ll admit it: the teeth sometimes won’t get brushed until noon or later.

During the day, I will sit for many hours, sometimes during marathon development sessions lasting up to three hours. Between questionable hygiene and inactivity, I knew I had to do better. Here’s what I have been doing to become a healthier (and more time-savvy) developer:

Iced Coffee, Ready, and Waiting

Coffee – it’s not negotiable for me. I must, and I shall! Granted, coffee doesn’t take too long to brew, but I’m one of those who insist on using an electric kettle, grinding beans and using a French Press. I estimate a good 8-10 minutes is wasted here. On most days, I now make my morning fix before bed and chill it in the fridge. When the morning arrives, I’m all set for a tall glass of iced coffee.

Staying Alive with a Standing Desk

According to the New York Times:

A study reveals that men who sit six hours or more a day have an overall death rate that’s 20% higher than men who sit for three hours or less. For women, it’s 40%.

I was surprised at this information when researching standing desk benefits, but I was mostly in it for calorie burn. I’ve been on #TeamStandingDesk for half a year now as of this writing, and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. According to Authority Nutrition:

When compared to an afternoon of sedentary work, an equal amount of time spent standing has been shown to burn over 170 additional calories. That’s almost 1,000 extra calories burned each week from simply standing at your desk each afternoon.

Look Elsewhere

When you’re in the zone and staring intensely at your work, it’s common to start experiencing eye strain. All About Vision has this to say on the matter:

To reduce your risk of tiring your eyes by constantly focusing on your screen, look away from your computer at least every 20 minutes and gaze at a distant object (at least 20 feet away) for at least 20 seconds. Some eye doctors call this the “20-20-20 rule.” Looking far away relaxes the focusing muscle inside the eye to reduce fatigue.

Water Are You Doing About Water?

“Yuck mouth” is my biggest concern when not drinking enough water, but there are greater benefits for staying hydrated throughout the day – improved digestion, expelling toxins, and keeping the liver and kidneys functioning properly. You may have heard of drinking eight 8-oz cups of water per day, but according to the Mayo Clinic:

The Institute of Medicine determined that an adequate intake (AI) for men is roughly about 13 cups (3 liters) of total beverages a day. The AI for women is about 9 cups (2.2 liters) of total beverages a day. … Although the “8 by 8″ rule isn’t supported by hard evidence, it remains popular because it’s easy to remember. Just keep in mind that the rule should be reframed as: “Drink eight 8-ounce glasses of fluid a day,” because all fluids count toward the daily total.

I’m not a fan of going to the restroom so often as a result of massive water intake, but it’s good knowing I’m doing something excellent for my health that requires very little effort.

Know When to Walk Away

Got dogs? Walk them! I have two myself, and they are the best reason to take a walking lunch. Before or after my meal, I will get them to the nearby park that loops back to my block. In all, it’s about a 15-minute diversion in my day, allowing me a short window to catch some air and decompress.

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I’m not even close to perfect in all these disciplines I’ve outlined, but it’s a work in progress as I strive to become a healthier developer. What do you do to stay healthy? Let us know in the comments below.

stephen victorStephen Victor has been developing eLearning modules for 10 years for various companies and clients. He resides in Tampa, Florida.

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