Did you make a resolution in January to exercise more or eat better? If you did, I bet it was hard to keep. However, now is a perfect time to start some hardcore fitness resolutions. It never made sense to me why the year starts in January when it feels like it is really beginning when the snow melts and the first spring blossoms start to bloom.
For the past week, the weather in Bulgaria has been absolutely tempting. Warm enough to tempt people to go outside and get active but not so hot that you feel slow and lazy. Also exciting news- the green onions, spinach, and other salad/soup greens have started coming in. Fresh, local food and the perfect weather for jogging or cycling. It is everything that you need to start a new fitness regime. Unless you work in web development. Then, you face a whole other set of obstacles when it comes to working out.
The days of the desk-bound programmer who lets their fitness slide as they get wrapped up in virtual problems are gone. In Silicon Valley, the trend is actually tilting towards fit developers through the concept of fitness hacking. An obsession with problem solving and tracking data that is usually applied to computer systems is now being applied to the human body.
Of course, if you are not in Silicon Valley, surrounded by others hacking the human body, it might be a little more difficult to find motivation to workout regularly. You may have to work hard to set up motivation in your life. For starters, you can check out these four ways to increase your motivation: real rewards, commitment contracts, mental contrasting, and setting up a monetary-based workout community.
Finding the Hours
Okay, you have the motivation and now you just have to find the time. This (in my experience) is where many developers fail. Most developers are asked to work long hours. And for the self-employed or those setting their own work hours, things like impostor syndrome and the concept of the “Real Programmer” can drive you to up your work hours just to keep up with your peers and ahead of competition.
This is a huge issue in the web development community. It is a needlessly high-stress environment where everything needs to be finished yesterday and programmers, designers, and content writers who do not play the game soon find themselves out of work. But if you are constantly on-call to put out fires and deep in your computer for 12 hours a day, it can be difficult to find time to get physical. Especially when the little time you spend away from your desk is claimed by your friends and family.
How does one find the time? Besides cutting the work hours? My number one solution has been to make exercise part of my commute. Cycling or walking to and from work not only gives you time to work out but also gives you a little bit of psychological flow at the beginning and end of your workday. This can prepare you to work better at work and help you transition to your social expectations after work.
Commuting not an option? The lunch hour work out is growing in popularity, and something as easy as a brisk walk can be beneficial. Also, try to combine your workout with your social time. Jog with your best friend or take a dance class with your spouse. The more you can combine exercise with things you already need to do, the less likely you will be to push it aside.
Finding the Right Workout
Another way to make exercise something you look forward to and wont put off is to find an activity that you love. I am a runner. I love the solitude of a long, slow jog. Nikola, on the other hand, hates running and enjoys cycling. But how do you find what you love?
First, try rock climbing. Seriously, try it. Besides being one of the funnest sports that gives you a great all-over workout, it is also an activity that should appeal to the logical, problem-solving side most programmers share. When Nikola and I purchase a house, one of the first things I am building is a climbing wall for winter workouts. Until then, summer scrambles will have to do.
Not into climbing? Okay, then you can go full geek with your workout and find a way to combine gaming with your workout.
Ultimately, it is about finding an activity you love, though. So, if you do not like something after giving it a few tries, then consider trying something else.
How Employers Can Encourage Employees to Work Out
While exercising is a personal issue, employers can still benefit by encouraging their employees to follow healthy lifestyles. There are several ways to do this- buying fitness trackers for employees, or developing an entire fitness plan in your business can help.
At Paiyak Development, we have a modest health and wellness fund for employees. But financial incentive is not the only way that businesses can encourage physical fitness in employees. We also encourage flexible schedules, which would allow employees to take a fitness class in the middle of the day or go for a jog while it is still sunny and warm out. Finally, a casual environment allows employees to come to work dressed in clothes they are comfortable wearing throughout the day, making options like cycling or walking to work more appealing than if our employees were stuck in business casual every day.
In other words: Happy Spring!!! Now step slowly away from the computer and get outside to do something!