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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 BigZaphod ( 12942 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @04:11PM (#15070097) Homepage
    "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 [] 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.
  • by wizzy403 ( 303479 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @04:22PM (#15070202)
    I even got some tech to make it more interesting, I have optical goggles and am pondering how to make a waterproof mp3 player.
    What you want is a Swimp3. Link [] It uses bone conduction, so you don't have to worry about the problems that a lot of "waterproof headphones" have with pressure buildup.
  • by metlin ( 258108 ) * on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @04:32PM (#15070328) Journal
    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?
  • Re:lol (Score:3, Informative)

    by hsmith ( 818216 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @04:35PM (#15070378)
    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.
  • Quack alert... (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @04:37PM (#15070393) eyequack.html []

    This isn't quite as bad as that ridiculous "See Clearly" crap that's hawked all over the airwaves (because it's free), but it's similarly useless.
  • by roscivs ( 923777 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @04:42PM (#15070445) Homepage
    For those total geeks who don't know what these are or how to do them, I googled and found this: []

    Hope this saves someone else from having to do the same Google.
  • by CastrTroy ( 595695 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @04:43PM (#15070460) Homepage
    Try removing your wallet from you back pocket to alleviate back pain. I've heard it's a major cause of back pain because it causes you to sit on an angle, which is a problem with geeks who do a lot of sitting.
  • Re:From TFA: (Score:3, Informative)

    by IIH ( 33751 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @05:05PM (#15070681)
    Then where is the geek supposed to sleep?

    Sleep? Haven't you heard of coffee?

  • by techno-vampire ( 666512 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @05:27PM (#15070927) Homepage
    Before you go any further with the Bates Method, or suggest it to anybody else, you really need to see what Martin Gardner said about it in Fads and Fallicies in the Name of Science. [] It isn't pretty. In essence, the Bates Method relies on "accomadation," the ability of the eye to change its focus depending on what you're looking at, while denying its existance. About the best you can say about it is that it lets people brag that they don't need glasses, while walking around in a fuzzy world because they won't admit their vision isn't really clear.
  • by Davak ( 526912 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @05:35PM (#15071012) Homepage
    Editor of Here. Sorry that dreamhost is having problems handling the traffic. We bought a dedicated server for [] and then carotids gets slashdotted. Bad guess on our part. :)

    Here's a cut and paste of the article. Sorry for the server problems:

    Dr. AA06:33 am46 comments Edit This

    I am a currently practicing board-certified Internal Medicine physician in a large rapidly expanding tech-growth community. (Ed note: Verified) Our area is rapidly being filled with web development, IT, and biotechnology companies. As a doctor in this area over the last few years, I have discovered some unique health problems associated with this population. One of my patients pointed me to this site when I was discussing with her if computer use causes carpal tunnel syndrome.

    I have noticed several repeating patterns in this geek lifestyle population.

    I have always wanted to post my observations regarding the geek lifestyle. I affectionately call it the "geek lifestyle" because of my previous life of programming and web design. One of the best part of my job is getting to live vicariously through these young energetic people. I frequently wonder what would have happened to me if I would have stayed with my tech-life instead of transitioning to medicine.

    Personal points aside, I have noticed several repeating patterns in this geek lifestyle population. Hopefully, these ideas will spark others to study this unique population.

    #1 Horrible Sleep Hygiene
    Insomnia and altered sleep patterns is one of the most common complaints to my office. Frequently the complaint is of light sleep or of multiple awakening throughout the night. Although this can be a symptom of depression, this is typically caused by poor sleep habits. It typically starts with somebody waking up in the middle of the night and turning on the laptop or TV. This begins to happen more and more frequently until the patient starts to worry about waking up as soon as they go to bed at night. This stress makes the sleep worse and worse until they finally come to see me.

    The bed should only be used for two things-sex and sleep.

    The fix is typically easy if the habit is not too ingrained. The bed should only be used for two things-sex and sleep. If one is awake in bed for more than 10-15 minutes, one should get up and do something non-stimulating. Listening to music or reading are excellent choices. Lying in bed and watching TV or using the laptop are the worst. These stimulate the brain to wake up even more. If this happens repeatedly, the habit will be formed.

    A few of my patients have tried "sleep hacking" and it almost always fails. The dangers of hacking sleep have been explored by a physician elsewhere.

    #2 Headaches

    Poor screen position, too small font, screen too bright/too dark, poor sitting posture are all commonly reported causes of chronic headache.
    Recurrent headaches are a very frequent complaint among heavy computer users. Typically these are caused by a multitude of issues regarding computer use. If they occur the same time every day or if they do not appear on non-work days, these are the clues that point me to a computer cause.

    Often when I tell my patients that I suspect it is their work environment, they come back and tell me me how they fixed it. Poor screen position, too small font, screen too bright/too dark, poor sitting posture are all commonly reported causes of chronic headache. When in doubt, I just tell them to trade offices for a couple of days. If they feel better in the other office, then it suggests that it is related to their personal work environment.

    Poor eyesight is frequently believed to be a cause of chronic headaches although I believe that is very overrated. What I have seen a few times is that people with glasses having too strong of a prescription. Type-A people when getting refracted for glasses will mistakenly report that higher and higher powers make them
  • by jonathantu ( 957890 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @05:57PM (#15071221)
    I've long considered myself both a nerd and a jock. I was glued to AD&D source books and frantically backstabbing in many a MUD at the same time that I was playing four sports in high school. In the same way that I had a deep love for a wide array of academic topics - literature and history in particular, with dashes of science thrown in for good measure - I found that playing a different sport every three months (football in the fall, wrestling in the winter and track and field in the spring) as well as a year and life long commitment to hockey all made my life a little better.

    I'm proud of being a nerd and hopeful that one day we can continue the peace process [] [], and one reason I don't mind being called such affectionately is that being a nerd also means you're not exactly hung up on what others think of you or of what you should be doing. Ultimately, to me, that's always meant that the things I enjoy - whether it's reading slashdot, watching college football, laughing at WoW stamina jokes even though I've never played, playing hockey, contributing to wikipedia, etc. - are not mutually exclusive even though in some quarters they might be considered so.

    Does being interested in open source make me any less of an athlete? Does being able to bench press 315 pounds make me any less a nerd? Does my posing hypothetical questions in this manner affect a butterfly's ability in Rhodesia to affect weather patterns in Salem, Oregon? I think the answer to all those questions are the same, though the cheeky amongst you will probably have a different one than me.

    To me being a nerd is about not placing too much importance in what others may think of you and your lifestyle, and that's always implied a highly analytical approach to life and the optimum and most efficient avenues of existence. All my best friends are nerds who can play some mean puck. One is, quite literally, a rocket scientist. Another is studying to become a vet. Those who are smart realize that physical activity is conductive to and a part of excellent mental acuity. This idea of nerds being pocket protector wearing, weak limbed, pasty faced slobs has never held a place in my world. We approach our physical health the same way we do our mental well being: efficiently, and with the question of "How best to optimize my existence so that I may continue doing the things I love?"

    It just so happens that for us, exercising embiggens our ability to play hockey, to drink, to drink while playing table hockey and to think clearly about how to alleviate/avoid hangovers so we can plan our next hockey/drinking/drinking hockey escapade with the highest level of operability.

    Finally, the nerds I know who exercise (and there are a lot) approach it with an almost maniacal determination to get it exactly right. They're the guys who know at what intervals they should be hitting their sets, who have graphically tracked their heart rates and their maxes and exactly what days that spinning class is offered. And they definitely don't wear some of the ridiculous outfits I've seen on some of the more "health conscious" individuals at the 24 Hour Fitness on Sunset Boulevard and Vine; the term "functional clothing" has probably never entered those people's minds.

    My nerd life is healthy as can be, thank you. In fact, thanks to this nagging shoulder injury acquired from completely crushing my buddy during a pick up game of hockey, I could probably use a little more nerd and a little less jock right now. But that doesn't mean I won't pretend I'm paying attention in yoga - I've deduced it's the best way to stretch and get a great view of the female fauna so long as you're positioned optimally. Mirrors + understanding of angles of incidence and reflection = crazy delicious.
  • Simple Diet (Score:3, Informative)

    by rjstanford ( 69735 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @07:22PM (#15071827) Homepage Journal
    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. Suggestions:
      • Get an subscription
      • (what I did): Walk around your living room listening to a DVD commentary track every evening before bed
      • Join a low-stress into sports league
      • Do whatever your slightly more in-shape buddies do, with them

    • Think about food before you eat it. Read nutrition labels. Mentally convert calories into miles-of-walking before eating. If you still want it, go ahead and eat it. If not, put it back.
    • Work out for 30 minutes a 2-3 times a week, in the gym. It really does make you feel better, even if it won't directly help you lose weight.

    That's it. Take in (a few) less calories, and burn (a few) more. No deprivation, no hardship, no math. And it works. Make your net change a whopping 250 calories a day (less than 2 cans of soda) and you'll lose 25 pounds over the course of a year. Do more, and lose faster - just don't do too much so that you feel like its a pain. And yeah, it may take a year or more (depending on your activities and how much you have to lose), but think about it - if you're heavy, a year from now wouldn't you rather be lighter? You're going to be a year older either way, so its not like it really costs you much to lose the bulk...
  • optical goggles (Score:3, Informative)

    by LunaticTippy ( 872397 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @07:38PM (#15071938)
    I've got terrible vision, nearsighted with astigmatism. I lost interest in swimming when I couldn't see anything clearly, such as walls, other swimmers, and lounging girls.

    Various manufacturers make goggles with optical correction, usually available in whole and half-diopter increments. I got some reasonably close to my prescription for $20 and am quite impressed with my vision, especially underwater. They're also handy in duststorms, and when welding/grinding/drilling above my head.

    Now I can navigate from the locker room to the pool without glasses, and avoid obstacles while swimming. Plus my eyes don't burn from chlorine.

  • by symbolic ( 11752 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @09:25PM (#15072513)

    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. 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, it's still very effective.

Stinginess with privileges is kindness in disguise. -- Guide to VAX/VMS Security, Sep. 1984