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Antonio
Antonio

Posted on • Originally published at antoniothomasjr.com

How to Build Fitness Habits Working in Front-End Web Development

This post was originally published on my blog. If you liked the post connect with me on Twitter.

Have you experienced back pain working in web development?

You could be powering through some discomfort as you read this.

Let's change that!

First, before reading forward, go ahead and stand up (we'll touch on this more later), but this is the first step.

I spent years working in the fitness industry before transitioning to web development. One of my responsibilities was exercising and staying fit.

Exercise equipment and time to exercise were accessible almost at all times. That made it easy to take both for granted.

I learned five things early on in my web development career:

  1. Invest in a quality chair.
  2. Focus on posture.
  3. Deadlifts are your friend.
  4. Stand often
  5. Be mindful of how you fuel your body.

I went from constant movement to sitting... A lot! My back was not pleased.

So, web developers, how do you stay fit and continue submitting "git commits?"

Setting fitness goals can be intimidating. You set out on your New Years' resolution to drop a few pounds (not that you need to), and you fall off after a month. Better yet, you hit "git commit -m 'init,'" and your new project is underway.

That's what I'll cover in this post. How to build sustainable fitness habits while crushing projects as a web developer.

How to Develop Winning Fitness Habits

Web Development can be a sedentary line of work, which can have negative impacts on your health.

The time spent sitting can go unnoticed, especially when you are in the middle of a project. By focusing on a few key points, you can improve your work and health as a web developer.

The nature of this article isn't to tell you that you need to become a powerlifter or go on a diet. No, this isn't that kind of post.

I'll outline how to build these simple habits that can keep you in tip-top shape for your next project.

Invest in a Quality Chair

Starting with a good chair can prevent some of the adverse effects of sedentary work.

But, suppose you're already starting in a kitchen like I did, not a problem. An ergonomic chair can meditate back pain and fight off that dreaded sciatica.

According to Mayo Clinic, sciatica is pain spreading from your lower back through the buttocks.

There can be many causes of sciatica, but a few things that can lead to it in our line of work:

Sitting for long periods.
Improper posture
Weak core

Consider this as preventative maintenance and an easy first step to staying healthy.

Okay, Antonio, I get it, what's the cost?

The cost of a chair can range from hundreds to thousands. If you have the means to go for the latter, have at it, but you can find a perfect chair between $100 - $300.

A few things to look for in an ergonomic chair:

  • Lumbar support
  • Seat material
  • Seat height

For more check out SPINE-health

Focus on Your Posture

After investing in your new chair, you want to reap the benefits. If you've formed some bad postural habits, it may take a bit of effort.

First, let's take a look at posture and its importance.

I will focus on static posture. As web developers, this is where we have the most significant room for improvement.

Why is posture so important? Poor posture over time can lead to back pain, rounded shoulders, and other body aches.

To avoid these compilations down the line, focus on the position of our spine while we sit.

How do You Improve your Static Posture?

As you start, you may need to set mental cues for yourself.

Try setting reminders to do the following:

  • Stand up to stretch.
  • Take a brief walk break.
  • Stand for a round of squats.
  • Stand to adjust your seating position.

Exercises to try that have proven to improve posture:

Planks

Man in plank position

Planks help strengthen your core resulting in more stability and postural control. A strong core is also essential for supporting and stabilizing your spine.

Half Cobra Pose

woman in half cobra pose

The movement stretches the lower back. The benefits include; improved blood flow and circulation. It also alleviates pain and aid recovery in those trouble areas.

Foam Roller

Foam rollers in a row

Foam rollers are not exercises, but they are crucial tools for improving posture. Using a foam roller will message and activate tight or inactive muscles.

Deadlifts are Your Friend

man in deadlift position

Deadlifts are a compound exercise. Compound movements make you use more than one muscle group increasing the benefit.

You perform traditional deadlifts with free weight equipment, but you can use resistance bands or gallon jugs.

The goal is to bend at the waist while maintaining a braced neutral spine and pick the weight up from the ground.

As I would tell my old training clients, "picking things up the proper way and putting them back down."

These are a staple in my weekly "web development fitness habits," and here's why:

  1. Deadlifts strengthen your core, leading back to good posture and eliminating back pain.

  2. They improve lower back strength and flexibility.

  3. As a bonus, you more calories during compound exercises. Burning more calories increases your metabolism leading to more energy.

If you don't have access to free weight equipment or are unsure of how to deadlift, you have options:

  • Work with a personal trainer or coach for proper instruction.
  • Start with bands or gallon jugs in each hand as your resistance.

Stand Often

Breaking concentration when you're hyper-focused on the next project feature is difficult. So be creative when adding standing and walking to your workday.

Over time these walks will become a habit, and your body will let you know when it's time to get moving.

Research has reported standing to show signs of:

  • Lowering risks of weight gain
  • Reducing risks of cardiovascular disease
  • Decrease back, shoulder, and leg pain
  • Increased productivity

There is a long list of benefits and science to back standing.

Many companies have switched to a standing desk. The pros outweigh the cons, and they have healthier employees. If your goal is to make the switch, ease into it. You may experience some discomfort as your body adjust to standing for an entire workday.

Be Mindful of How You Fuel Your Body

There are few things on this least more critical. We don't leave our chargers behind; keep that same intent when it comes to caloric intake.

When I started programming, it wasn't that I was at a caloric surplus. It was too easy to forget to eat.

Think of a computer. The more apps and chrome tabs you have open, the faster you need a boost from your charger. Think of your body as the same, a machine.

You burn more calories by doing everything in this post; you'll need a charge, so you eat.

Your body keeps track of this. By eating small meals and healthy snacks throughout the day, you burn more calories and increase energy.

Form Maintainable habits

Habits take time, so start slow. Set a reminder to stand and walk.

Be sure to have healthy snacks on hand, and look into upgrading your chair if you need one.

Adding these tips can lead to improved health and increase your overall productivity.

⬇️ For more resources to help you move forward in web development.

Check out these 5 tools

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