Fighting the developer syndrome: Sitting still all day

Almost every developer spends more than 3/4ths of his working hours in front of the computer. That’s what we call ‘sedentary work’.

This type of work can be harmful if no counter measures are taken, just look at these statistics:

  • 80% of those working daily in front of the computer suffer from health problems regularly
  • 2/3 suffer from tension and pain in the shoulder and neck
  • Over 50% have back problems
  • Around 45% suffer from vision problems and headaches
  • 44 percent of business active programmers and developers are quiet for at least six hours in one business day.

This inactivity leads to the most common health problems such as cardiovascular, pulmonary and circulatory disorders.

What’s the problem?
Sitting still for long periods of time can be linked to risk for injuries and negative health effects. Sedentary work is often a form of precision work, where you repeat many small movements, regardless of whether you use keyboard or mouse. Add to that the fact that there are hardly any variation throughout the day or week, and you have a dangerous combination.

The most common injuries occur in the muscles, bones, tendons and ligaments of the neck, shoulder, back, forearm, hand or wrist. The many hours spent with your back against the office chair can also provide higher blood pressure, cholesterol and weight.

In addition, there may be a gradual deterioration in general health if you do not otherwise compensate for physical activity. Even if you exercise in your spare time, the rest of the day may be a lot of time to sit still – and you do not necessarily reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

What can you do?

At home I’ve begun to stretch out every morning for 20 minutes, taking extra care of my lower back and wrists. Personally I have also started practicing Karate, which I find is a great way to get in shape and learn valuable skills that transcend the sport itself. Besides the fact that an Authentic Tokaido Gi is quite inexpensive and almost the only gear you need to start, this sport is a great way to combat any type of pain or nuisance caused by sedentary work.

Around half of all notified work-related disorders in the world are due to pain in muscles, joints and tendons. According to the International Research Center for the Working Environment (IFA), the reason is mainly computer and sedentary work. Therefore, if you are one of those who sit down very often, there is good reason to find out what you can do to prevent yourself from harm.

The types of jobs that characterize office work today must be supplemented with movement. It can be both at work or at leisure.

At work you can do the following:

  • Discuss with your leader and colleagues how to get more movement into your daily workflows
  • Take it to HR if you need a break and your boss is not understanding
  • Even the best office chair is not good enough for your body if you sit on it for a full eight hours a day. Therefore, your workday must be varied and include breaks every now and then.
  • You can also create variation by changing work postures on a regular basis and by putting small breaks and exercises into the working day.
  • Your work at the computer must be organized so that daily work is regularly interrupted by other work. If this is not possible, there must be appropriate breaks at work.
  • Get up and walk around. Stretch yourself. Take a trip to the printer, coffee machine or clean up your desk, and possibly even the kitchen or other common areas at the workplace.
  • Take the bike or walk if you are going to meetings outside of the house. It also applies to and from work, if possible.
  • Use the stairs instead of the elevator
  • Consider taking the long way around to fetch the latest printouts, for that maximum benefit of a short break.
  • Go for a walk – either inside or outside – while talking on the phone
  • Hold walk & talk meetings. Many times it’s more efficient than sitting quietly around a table, and it gives more energy
  • If you have a raise / lower table, use it!
  • And remember; variation prevents pain