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Health Problems Related to the Geek Lifestyle 495

jonasj writes "A doctor and former programmer has written a good article on common geek health problems. From the article: 'If I were to go and try to run a few miles this weekend, I would not be able to easily do so. [...] However, if you take one of the these college basketball athletes, any of them would be able to run miles without even breathing heavy. However, if you made them sit down and try to learn Java for 12 hours a day, most of them would be asleep at their desk before lunch. The typical geek trains their brain to be heavily focused while multitasking day after day. Is it surprising that this same brain does not do well when forced to isolate down to one task?'"
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Health Problems Related to the Geek Lifestyle

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  • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @03:45PM (#15069821)
    Nothing to see here, because you've already got eyestrain.

    Please move along at least every hour or two before you add deep vein thrombosis [wikipedia.org] to your list of troubles.

  • From TFA: (Score:5, Funny)

    by eln ( 21727 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @03:45PM (#15069823)
    The bed should only be used for two things-sex and sleep.

    Or, in the case of geeks, one thing.
  • lol (Score:3, Insightful)

    by merlin_jim ( 302773 ) <James@McCracken.stratapult@com> on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @03:46PM (#15069828)
    Is it surprising?


    I mean come on everyone knows - if you don't excercise then you don't have strength and endurance.

    And the computer geek lifestyle leaves little time for excercising.

    Same thing with a professional basketball athlete - he does muscle and coordination training for hours daily. He does not practice abstract semantic concepts in his head while making those baskets, either.

    I'm really not seeing where the story is here.
    • Re:lol (Score:2, Interesting)

      by coyotecult ( 647958 )
      If you read the article, there's recommendations on how to avoid some of the common health problems geeks end up having. So that's probably useful to some here.
    • Re:lol (Score:3, Informative)

      by hsmith ( 818216 )
      Bullshit. You make time to workout. An hour a day 4 times a week is nothing. You will feel 1000x better, your diet will improve, the benefits are endless. I feel awesome once i starting hitting the weights 4 months ago. I sleep great, i feel great.
      • Re:lol (Score:4, Insightful)

        by arivanov ( 12034 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @05:07PM (#15070711) Homepage
        Absobloodylutely. Seconded.

        To add to this.

        The bloated rolling non-sporty geek is an American phenomenon.

        In all my years of working in EU I have never had more than 2-3% of these in the company. In fact the IT industry in most EU countries is generally more healthy than the remaining population.

        I am one of the least sporty individuals in my company (which is a typical UK telecoms/IT shop) and I always walk for at least 20 minutes at lunch, cycle for 3 miles a day with a 4 year old on a tag-along whenever the weather allows (picking him up from the nursery is a perfect excuse for some exercise). On top of that I try to do at least 1 hour basketball or 1 hour swimming per week.

        That does not prevent me from doing design work, coding and a bit of sysadmin here and there.

        To summarize - geek lifestyle is whatever you make it. Being a rolling ball of fat does not make you a geek. Being a athelete does not exclude you from being a geek. At least outside US.

    • by iamlucky13 ( 795185 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @04:49PM (#15070519)
      I'm sorry, why can't a person be both a geek and healthy? Just give up 30 minutes of WoW, 3 times a week, and go run/ride/lift/stretch/something. And cut down on the grilled stuffed burritos and mountain dew. You'll be glad to have done it the next time you have to lug your gaming rig with the dual video cards, 12 cooling fans, and a 20 pound power supply to a LAN party.

      For that matter, why can't a person be both an athlete and geeky? Think of plays as functions. Your selector class reads a variable passed by the QB/coach/point guard, then picks a function and executes the steps. Coaches spend enough time pounding plays into jocks heads, so someone might as well take pride in being good at learning them quickly and executing them properly. OOP. Object Oriented Playmaking. The only drawback is when endzone_dance() gets stuck in an endless do/while loop.

      I recognize some people have truly crappy jobs and spend 12 hours a day in front of a monitor, but I'd be more than willing to bet that the vast majority of geeks have time to spare for exercising and healthy cooking if they're willing to re-arrange their priorities a little.

      You're right though. I'm not seeing much of a story in this. Exercising and eating right makes you healthier. Doing brain work helps intellectual acuity.
      • by gardyloo ( 512791 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @05:46PM (#15071120)
        Your selector class reads a variable passed by the QB/coach/point guard, then picks a function and executes the steps.

                My god. The first time I read that, I thought, "Now what would Quick Basic have to do with football?"
      • I'm sorry, why can't a person be both a geek and healthy?

        It's the American God Complex at work. Americans need to feel like a God, and therefore they spend unhealthy amounts of time at that which they are good at and nothing else. The only way the stereotypical Comic. Book. Guy. can fulfil that god complex is to specialize in an esoteric pastime, detracting from physical as well as social health. The whole ancient greek concept of the Balanced Person is lost on the American society. We are reared to
    • Re:lol (Score:4, Insightful)

      by KanSer ( 558891 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @06:29PM (#15071464)
      [blockquote] Is it surprising?


      I mean come on everyone knows - if you don't excercise then you don't have strength and endurance.

      And the computer geek lifestyle leaves little time for excercising.

      The least surprising thing is the hilarious justification of, "We're just too darn smart to exercise'.

      Geek lifestyle leaves no time for exercise? There seems to be plenty of time for jacking off and playing video games. Just get off your ass.

      If you need to multi-task while you exercise because that's how your brain works, do a sport instead of just exercise. There are plenty of purely recreational leagues everywhere. (Often called beer leagues, which is just about the best part of it)

      I recommend baseball for the beginner geek because it is the least stressful as a sport and offers a nice transition. It is also chock full of numbers a geek can spend his day calculating, and believe me your team will appreciate even a novice statistician.

      For the intermediate geek I recommend Soccer or a racket sport(even ping pong!), but those don't offer any numbers to fuck around with.

      Hockey I recommend for the geek looking move up in sports difficulty, and hockey offers the most variables. Not to mention that Ice Hockey allows you to get a decent workout without sweating. (If you go crazy nuts you'll sweat plenty, but it's very easy to keep your heart rate in its optimal zone without getting too sweaty to go to work.)

      Hockey gear is expensive but you can find recreational games without more than leg pads.

      It'll also help the geek tendency to be a fucking social troll and retard.

      (beer league baseball/softball is by far the best way to go from zero exercise to building healthy habits. Working out is way more fun when you're drunk, just like most things.)
      • by symbolic ( 11752 )

        I got tired of the large phone books I get each year cluttering up my shelf space. Rather than throw three of them away, I stacked them atop one another, interlocking the first/last half inch or so of pages between them. Voila...an instant stepper. It's really not hard to push your chair out of the way and step for 10-30 minutes at a time - and you can really get your pulse elevated doing it. Just be wary of the occasional misstep - it's not as sturdy as a manufactured step, but used with a bit of attention
  • by haluness ( 219661 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @03:47PM (#15069838)
    I've always found it funny that 'geeks' revel in the fact that they can't be healthy. Stupid stereotypes.

    Excercise is a good thing - yeah, it takes a bit of effort (and cursing) to get into it, but once you get into the habit, everything just seems to flow better - smoother thinking, better sleep and so on.
  • Whatever. (Score:2, Insightful)

    This guy is a quack.
    I'm sorry, but putting up an excuse for not being physically active because your brain can't deal with only handling a single task is specious at best.
    There are plenty of us programmers, geeks, and nerds who still engage in sports and athletic activities. I have my degree in Computer Science from the U of A, graduated with a > 3.5 GPA, work as a software engineer, and yet I still play soccer, go to the gym, mountain bike, snowboard and can run a mile no sweat.
    Just cause this guy c
    • Ah yes, the ol' "Article is flawed because of $ANECDOTAL_EVIDENCE!" post, a true staple of Slashdot!
      • Actually, the article is not flawed. Just that line of logic. And, no it's not flawed due to my anecdotal evidence. It's actually specious logic.
      • There's plenty of clinical evidence that shows that getting in shape can require 20 minutes a day (or less). Don't even try tell me that you can't cough up 20 minutes a day for an activity is likely to increase both the length and quality of your life. Heck, you can make serious improvement with 4 minutes of Tabata Intervals a few times a week. That's a 20 second maximal sprint followed by 10 seconds rest repeated 8 times. Of course, it will probably take at least a half hour to recover from this workou

    • I'm with you

      At the last place I worked at, the my team looked more like bouncers than developers. We had a physical training instructor, two international sportsmen, a semi-professional motorcycle racer and an ex-gymnast. Average weight of about 200 pounds and average body fat about 9-10%. That was obviously a little unusual but it certainly puts paid to the stereotype of skinny geeks.

      Disappointingly, the CTO was the archetypal nerd; arriving at 11am and working until early in the morning with the physiqu

    • I'm sorry, but putting up an excuse for not being physically active because your brain can't deal with only handling a single task is specious at best.

      Not to mention which it's wrong. Coding, in my experience, requires the sort of single-minded focus that the article claims geeks don't have.

    • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )
      I agree that I seriously doubt that anyone can't run a mile because of not being able to concentrate on one thing. Much more likely it's the diet of pop and habit of not moving more than necessary.

  • Slashdot effect can be hazardous to your webserver. Nursing or pregnant women should avoid the slashdot effect at all costs.
    • "Nursing or pregnant women should avoid the slashdot effect at all costs"

      You must be new around here. The odds of a woman reading Slashdot is only about 1 in 100 as it is, but the odds that they've had sex too is even slimmer.
      Unless you're referring to the "Slashdot effect" as the effect a geek has on a woman, and in that case there's almost a 0% chance they'd end up nursing or pregnant from said geek.
  • by Rob T Firefly ( 844560 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @03:48PM (#15069853) Homepage Journal
    If it weren't for my intense geek lifestyle, I might never have gotten rid of that parasite I found myself host to, a terrifying creature which constantly drained my health and resources day and night.. but thanks to my intense multitasking focus and nerd powers, she eventually left me and moved back in with her folks.
  • by offput ( 961196 )
    I'm not healthy because I spend all my spare time staring at a monitor reading /. and watching movies/tv shows. If I really wanted to, I could dedicate some of my excess spare time to exercising (as athletic people already do). It's a matter of mindset; athletic people - even if they are tied up and forced to learn java - would still go out and play sports and be in good shape and geeks don't have the drive. We're lazy.
    • You really think if you tie up an athletic person for 12 hours a day learning java that they would have the same energy to exercise at the end of the day?

      Yes they would still exercise but I would bet the longer they are tied up the less exercise they will do until eventually they are doing none at all. I've seen this happen many times. It happened to me. I used to play soccer and basketball. Believe it or not it takes a lot of energy to devote yourself to any task. I have a lot of friends in med-school, th

    • by metlin ( 258108 ) *
      It's a matter of mindset; athletic people - even if they are tied up and forced to learn java - would still go out and play sports and be in good shape and geeks don't have the drive. We're lazy.

      Umm, what about athletic geeks?

      Some of us are geeks, but also love being in good shape - the two need not be mutually exclusive as you make it out to be, you know?
  • I've never considered it a lifestyle. It's more like playing dodgeball with the sun.
  • There is a *lot* about the geeky lifestyle that is bad for us. LOTS of it.

    However, I do know quite a number of people (if you count IRC and forums, heh) that make a point to try to avoid some of pitfalls- exercise, proper diet, taking breaks from the computer/video game/etc.

    I don't think this is as bad as the 'classic' nerd stereotype of the 1970s and 1980s, but i'm sure we've all got room to improve.
  • Have a job programming? Ride your bike to work.

    Seriously, do people here feel they have to be out of shape and socially awkward to be good with technology?

    Then again, a couple of weeks ago I met a dancer (yes, female!) while carting home a laser printer from the street. Maybe its not fair to compare myself to other geeks.
  • by RunFatBoy.net ( 960072 ) * on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @03:50PM (#15069887)
    With proper coaching that the coordination would eventually come.

    The geek environment seems to value intellectual achievement so highly, that when someone's physical ability shows promising traits, its almost as if we don't recognize that ability and move along.

    Jim http://www.runfatboy.net/ [runfatboy.net] -- Exercise for the rest of us.
  • Becoming forgetful and posting dupe articles to /.
  • by rueger ( 210566 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @03:53PM (#15069918) Homepage
    Several years ago I finally figured out a few things.

    If I do one thing at a time it gets done faster, and with better results than if I try to multitask.

    If I get out for exercize - any exercize - a couple of times a week I feel better and can work more productively.

    If I limit work to something like 9-5 (well, actually 10-4) I get more done, with better results.

    If I have interests outside work like art, or film, or reading, or just hiking in the woods, my work improves.

    Despite the Wal-Martization of work in North America, it remains true that a healthy, balanced lifestyle allows you to work faster and more productively.

    Yes, the less that I work, the more that I am able to do.
    • "exercize" - I'm glad I'm not the only one who has a problem spelling that damn word... (it's "exercise", btw) :-)

      Anyway, I ran across this article about procrastination [calpoly.edu] yesterday which I think sort of relates to what you're saying. You don't seem to suffer from the problem, but I'm posting the link here since someone looking for help and reading what you wrote may also find it insightful.
    • Ah, balance. My favorite word (no, really).

      If I do one thing at a time it gets done faster, and with better results than if I try to multitask.

      This is quite true. Multiple studies have shown that every context switch takes you 15 to 60 minutes to return to full productivity (depending on the focus required for the task), with a complete loss of about 50% of that time.

      Most geeks who think they're great at multi-tasking should try focusing deeply on one problem some time. Their productivity would skyrocket
  • O' Rly? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by sk8dork ( 842313 )
    The typical geek trains their brain to be heavily focused while multitasking day after day. Is it surprising that this same brain does not do well when forced to isolate down to one task?
    i doubt that the reason that i can't run a couple miles is that i'm not doing enough tasks. i doubt that i'd be able to run for miles if i was only replying to email while searching databases while answering the phone, etc.
  • Me and my geek friends have come to realize that multitasking not only leads to errors, but can make one irritable.
    We have now decided that concentrating on one task as much as possible not only gets it done faster and with less errors but usually takes much less time than adding it to the multi-scheme.
    We also came to realize when one multitasks we tend to forget a thing or two in the mix of multitasking.
  • Whacked out after just a few comments. No doubt a cardiac arrest team is applying electro-shocks to its chest this very minute, and it is regretting taking the lift every day instead of the stairs to the server room.

    Seriously though, it's been a long cold winter where I am and I was starting to notice that the lack of outdoor activity, combined with too much computer time, is starting to eat in to whatever health karma I established when I was younger. Now the snow and ice has gone I've started cycl

  • by MustardMan ( 52102 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @03:57PM (#15069946)
    I'm fat because my brain can't focus on a single task? Here I thought it was all the taco bell and doritos I ate, combined with the fact that I sit on my big ass 24 hours a day. All along it's been because my brain just likes to multitask. Thank you, TFA, for giving me yet another excuse to skip that pesky personal responsibility thing and blame something else for my lard ass.
  • Shenanigans on #4 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mspohr ( 589790 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @03:57PM (#15069956)
    I call shenanigans on #4 Poor Attention Span.

    This guy is clueless and confused. He even proposes a genetic basis for the problem. First he states that "Poor Attention Span" is a problem for geeks then his argument is that they have a GOOD attention span and get bored when running... which is it?

    Some of my best programming time (problem solving) happens when I am running, XC skiing, etc. You have to pay attention and multitask to perform any exercise (as well as program). If you get bored and don't pay attention while running, you'll fall over.

  • by GillBates0 ( 664202 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @03:59PM (#15069973) Homepage Journal
    ...here's a link to the Hacker's Diet [fourmilab.ch] discussed on /. on on many earlier occasions [google.com]. It helped me lose (40lbs) (albeit in combination with modified low-carb diet) ...maybe it'll help somebody else out of a 200lb mess.
    • Simple Diet (Score:3, Informative)

      by rjstanford ( 69735 )
      Or you can do what I did (which got me from 240+ to 170). This assumes that you're maintaining your weight without issue:
      • Eat a bit less of everything. Some suggestions:
        • Skip "free" food like chips and breadsticks except while you're eating your entree
        • Eat your sides only until your main food is gone - no more mopping up sauce or beans after you're "done"
        • Switch to diet soda
        • Cut back any meal you eat alone to 400-500 calories (eg: 9 bagel bites), but at most one meal per day
      • Do more physical activity. Sugges
  • One of the best things that I did nearly four years ago was getting a gym membership. I normally work out two to four times a week. Even then, I'm still multitasking since I use the time on the treadmill to catch up on my reading material.
  • by aapold ( 753705 ) * on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @04:00PM (#15069987) Homepage Journal
    I disagree completely. I fit most of the geek stereotypes, but I typically focus on one thing to the point of complete oblivion of all else, especially when coding. I ignore the time and other things that get in the way. When forced to break my train of thought, it can take me like 5-10 minutes to get back the state I was in before where I have the complete grasp on all aspects of what I'm working on.
  • When should we exercise? Working 9 to 9 is the rule, not the exception, in our branch. I admit, I prefer sitting on my desk to forced, arbitrary sweating, but I doubt many managers would enjoy hearing "Sorry, chief. Gonna fix that bug tomorrow, now it's time for my run."

    I don't think that's a way to keep your job for a long time.

    Yes, it's yet another excuse to NOT run around and leave a trail of salty droplets on the road. But simply saying "gotta exercise more" isn't gonna cut it.

    'sides, show me a geek tha
    • Re:Tell me when (Score:4, Insightful)

      by jtaylor00 ( 670164 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @04:17PM (#15070146)
      Maybe you should find a different job if the 'rule' is to work 9 to 9, 5 days a week, every week. Unless of course you are getting paid overtime.

      My life got much more enjoyable when I realized that work is just that...work. I've got better things to do than sit in an office for 12 hours a day.
      • MOD PARENT UP (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Abcd1234 ( 188840 )
        Seriously. I've never understood why people look at their jobs *as* their life, as opposed to simply a part of it. I make a point of leaving at 5, and never taking my work home with me unless it's absolutely necessary. Working 12 hours a day and leaving nothing for yourself is a miserable way to live, and it doesn't *have* to be that way.
  • by Schezar ( 249629 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @04:03PM (#15070020) Homepage Journal
    I'm a geek. I work for IBM. I run several websites in my spare time. I play German board games. I watch anime, and in fact ran the largest anime club in the US for several years. I do a freaking podcast four nights a week.

    You want to know what I did last Sunday? I climbed a mountain. Yesterday, after work, I ran 4 miles. Today, I'm going to run another 4. Last week, I biked 10. I lift weights. I play DDR.

    Being a geek has NOTHING to do with being a lazy fat ass. Using that as an excuse is pathetic. A pasty, weak geek sitting in his parents' basement in front of a computer is no better off than a pasty, beer-bellied sports geek sitting in his livingroom in front of a TV.

    Mind and body are both important. To exercise one at the expense of the other is unbalanced and unhealthy (severe medical problems aside). The Greeks knew this. The Romans knew this. It's nothing new.
    • The idea that the Greeks and Romans saw the body and mind as intimately connected is what really got me interested in exercise in the first place. I used to be somewhat anti-physical, but all of those feelings went away when I saw how much better I felt after I started to exercise regularly. It seems as though our society is still influenced by the idea of the intellectual that completely rejects the physical world and solely devotes himself to the world of thought. I've come to think of this as the result
  • I have a suggestion for geeks having problems sleeping. Stop watching that DVD or playing poker, close the laptop, lie back and think about the best way to solve a tricky computer problem (maybe for work).

    For example last night, I tried to work out whether it was better to generate a thread in a threaded comments system (like slashdots) mainly in the data access layer or whether to order the comments in the applications layer. Doing it in the data access layer could be neat, but then if you did it in the ap
  • It makes perfect sense to me that if you are genetically blessed with high cardio endurance, you will be attracted to sports. By the same token, if you are not then you will be drawn to the more mentally challenging disciplines. The truly sad folks are the ones that have both strong physical and mental capacities yet they were unable to avoid a physically stagnant career. The lack of emphasis on physical fitness in corporate society is a travesty and the purveyors will reap what they sow. Enjoy your cre
  • another thing about geeks is we know how to get porn -- tons of it and for free which leads to more masturbation which may enable an [auto]sexual addiction, either a preexisting condition or a nurtured trait

    i for one wish i'd never seen any pr0n

  • by Xeger ( 20906 ) <<slashdot> <at> <tracker.xeger.net>> on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @04:53PM (#15070547) Homepage
    I've always hated exercise-for-exercise's-sake (think treadmills, stationary bikes and StairMasters here) and because of my hectic work schedule and a number of non-physical hobbies, it's rare occasion that I have the time to engage in recreational exercise.

    In the past two years I've been putting on weight, and I'm NOT happy about it. So I've come up with the following workaround:

    1) Buy an iPod

    2) Load it up with good music, audio books, learn-a-language casettes, and other engaging activities

    3) Go to gym; hop on cardio machine of choice; turn iPod up

    4) Zone out as you exercise. Let the audio distract you; try to forget completely about the discomfort of working out, while still concentrating on the physical side of things (are we running fast enough, is our posture correct, etc).

    It works surprisingly well. It's unbelievable how quickly 45 minutes can pass while I'm learning Arabic or reading Joe Haldeman in my head. And the best thing is, I've gotten to the point where I don't strictly *need* the iPod distraction in order to enjoy a workout. I've trained myself to tolerate the mild physical discomfort (sweat, tired muscles, et al) -- though I still enjoy the iPod.

    Yes, I'm a big wimp. But at least I've got mental hacks to compensate for it!
  • I can relate... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by stonewolf ( 234392 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @04:56PM (#15070584) Homepage

    I'm an older geek. I learned emacs in 1981, learned FORTRAN in 1972.
    I have lived something like the typical geek lifestyle most of my life. I got fat. I got sick. My Dr. told me had to exercise... I hate gyms... Jocks bore me... I took ROTC in high school so I wouldn't have to deal with another coach. What was someone like me going to do for exercise?

    I bought a stationary bike. I wore it out. I bought another one and wore it out at about the same time my Dr. told me to never ride a bike again because the damn seats pinch nerves and make you lose feeling in parts of your body you don't ever want numb... I next wore out a Nordic track machine. And then I wore out several pairs of walking shoes: all of those activities were boring as hell. It was like taking bad tasting medicine. I know it was good for me, but it was hard to make myself do it because it was so boring. At least I could listen to music and even read on the bikes.

    I kept getting older and I kept fluctuating between being fat and not so fat as I overcame the boredom and exercised. I mean seriously, how many times can you walk down the same trail before it becomes so boring that it actually hurts to think about it?

    Finally a friend talked me into taking a class at his Kung Fu school. The first words out of the instructors mouth were "Remember, there is no shame here." And there isn't. There are a variety of activities in each class. It is the hardest work out I ever imagined doing. The combined mental and physical challenge of learning forms is as much fun as solving a hard programming problem or learning a new system. Not to mention that I soon found that the majority of the students are geeks of some sort. Even the master of the school has a Ph.D in neuroscience. Then I started getting in to the internal side of Kung Fu, meditation and Chi Kung, and found more there than I believed was possible.

    I started studying a martial art at age 50. My doctor said I was nuts but that it probably wouldn't kill me. Now he says he is amazed at the physical and mental changes he sees in me. I really believe that if you find a serious martial arts school, *not* one run by a bully show off or that is focused just on winning tournaments, you will find an activity that appeals to geeks the same way science and math appeal and for the same reasons. Even within the same style there are good schools and there are bad schools. The master makes the difference.

    I never believed I would look forward to spending 2 or more hours at a time sweating so hard that puddles form around my feet when I take a break, but I do.



    I am not claiming I am any good at Kung Fu. I am just saying that I love it and I am getting amazing benefits from it. Unlike some styles Kung Fu is appropriate for people of all ages.
  • by BigBadPete ( 241096 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @05:03PM (#15070660)
    Allow me to relate a problem I've been fighting for over a year now.

    I used to sit at my computer at home the way I've seen many folks sit at theirs: slouched down in a low-backed chair with your back at about a 40-70 degree angle and head upright (with nothing supporting it besides my neck) looking at the screen. I spent probably six or seven years doing that on a regular basis for hours on end with no apparent problems. At work I sat correctly in an ergonomic chair with everything set up properly, keyboard and monitor at the proper height and all that jazz. During this time I also did weight training and martial arts quite regularly, and I was quite healthy and rarely sick.

    Then one day I realized I had a dull pain in my back, just between my left scapula and spine, that got a little worse when I moved my head certain ways. Thinking I'd just injured myself in one of my non-sedentary hobbies, I went to a chiropractor who managed to fix me up in about three or four weeks, and I was symptom-free again. Then the pain came back, and I went back to the chiro and got re-adjusted and felt fine, the pain came back again...and so on for a few months. Eventually I started feeling pain and tingling in my fingers and hands, and severe muscle cramps in my upper back. It also spread to both sides of my back.

    I finally saw a doctor who referred me to an osteopath (D.O.) who gave me almost the same therapy (the manipulations felt identical, in all the same places, even though he claimed that osteopathy and chiropractic were quite different) as the chiropractor had with some acupuncture added in. Again he'd get me fixed up, and I'd relapse, and so on for another few months.

    Oddly enough, even though they both told me that proper posture was the key to feeling better, it didn't sink in exactly what I was doing wrong the entire time. I figured that since I sat properly at an ergonomically-organized workstation at the office all day and had completely given up my strenuous hobbies that I couldn't be doing anything wrong.

    It took weeks of googling before I finally found a concise, lucid explanation [teamdoctors.org] for what was going wrong: the way I'd been sitting at home (at the PC and the TV) was putting stress on my scalene muscles, which were helping to stabilize my head and neck in that position. Those muscles in turn are connected to the first two ribs at the top of the rib cage, and the first rib was being pulled slightly out of position by the over-developed and tense scalenes. It fit with what the osteopath had told me ("Your first rib is out of place") and the treatment I'd been getting the entire time. I just kept yanking everything back out again with an hour or so of video gaming or internet chatting while slouched and relaxing.

    So, now I'm pursuing treatment with my chiro again since my insurance stopped paying for the osteopath (who was being billed as a physical therapist, even though he didn't seem to operate much differently from my chiropractor). I'm just hoping I didn't wise up too late to fix my back for good. I'm now sitting up straight at home, and I can definitely tell that the postural correction is what I needed. Although my back is still a bit sore, my symptoms aren't nearly as bad as they were at their worst; practically no tingling or pain in the arms and hands, and the muscle cramps aren't as bad, nor are they getting worse.

    So kids, your parents were right, sitting up straight IS important, because you can cause very serious health problems with a few years of bad habits.

  • by Thaelon ( 250687 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @05:11PM (#15070760)
    My chest and shoulders are actively hurting right now because of the rigorous resistance training I did yesterday as I sit here looking at a monitor display and typing on an ergonomic keyboard while I pretend to be writing java code.

    I highly encourage you to get to the gym, make yourself go regularly. The health benefits are outstanding, and the girls definitely pay more attention. Most people will be impressed simply because you're a geek and a gym rat.

    I'm not trying to delude anyone. You're not going to turn into Arnold Schwarzenegger if you're a scrawny fucker like me, but if you seriously commit to it the difference will surprise you and maybe even get you laid. Besides, the chicks at the gym are often hot, and they don't wear those outfits anywhere else. ;-)
  • by PetoskeyGuy ( 648788 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @06:24PM (#15071437)
    If I were to go and try to run a few miles this weekend, I would not be able to easily do so. [...] However, if you take one of the these college basketball athletes, any of them would be able to run miles without even breathing heavy. However, if you made them sit down and try to learn Java for 12 hours a day, most of them would be asleep at their desk before lunch. The typical geek trains their brain to be heavily focused while multitasking day after day. Is it surprising that this same brain does not do well when forced to isolate down to one task?

    So if you were to tell your basic geek to Juggle with one hand, play sudoku on their cell phone with the other AND run a mile it would be no problem. Somehow I don't think concentration has anything to do with the heavy breathing...
  • multitask?? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by burnunit0 ( 630935 ) <burnunit@waste.org> on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @06:30PM (#15071470) Homepage
    That's asinine. Athletes train their bodies, reflexes and "game brains" to multitask just as much as a geek. Java might be really hard to learn, but so is executing a double play; running the triangle offense; or reading coverages while deciding between the called timing route, checking down to the crossing route, or going to the outlet receiver while evading a pack of 6-foot-seven, 360 pound men in plastic armor who are freaking nimble. And some of these athletes do multiple sports. This author does a disservice to geeks (many of whom are athletic and fit) AND to jocks (many of whom are brilliant both in their sports and "conventional" measures of intelligence).
  • by jridley ( 9305 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @08:42PM (#15072300)
    I was approaching 200 pounds and resolved to reverse that trend, so I started running on the treadmill at work, got to 4 miles a day. The problem is, it's deadly dull even with music, and then I got a stress fracture in my shin and had to stop for a while.

    So I bought a decent bike and started commuting 21 miles round trip a day. It's now my favorite part of the day, I get about 70 minutes a day to de-stress and to do my creative thinking that I normally only had a 5 minute shower a day to do it in.

    I find I get a (perhaps perverse) sense of pleasure in riding in all kinds of weather; below-zero (F) temps, 40-MPH headwinds, rain storms, whatever. If you're well equipped (rain gear and lighting) it's great fun. The first year it's tough to keep motivated, but once I got in shape, I found that on the days that I drove, I ALWAYS wished I would have ridden instead, and I NEVER wished I'd driven when I rode in. Now I simply don't drive unless I absolutely have to.

    I get to work, and back home again, feeling like superman and ready to do anything. Also as an environmentalist I like the fact that every day I ride I kick out 20 pounds less CO2 into the atmosphere.

    At 42 after 2 years of riding I'm in better shape than I ever have been. I hope to continue riding daily until I'm physically unable to anymore, which could be a long time since people who keep up that level of activity often continue to ride into their 80's and 90's; regular aerobic exercise is better than anything else to make you feel great and not wind up a drooling wreck in a rest home at 70.

I came, I saw, I deleted all your files.