Lets get Physical

There’s an old saying “Heathy body, healthy mind” and it’s something I agree with strongly. Being physically active is something I find very helpful for my work and personal life. Due to this, I would like to deviate from the technical side of things and write a post about lifestyle.

When I talk about being more physically active, I’m not explicitly referring to getting fitter or achieving a fitness goal. I am simply talking about moving more, finding times during the day to move a bit.

The classic stereotype of IT workers is slowly losing its relevance. A significant portion of the people I work with are gym goers, runner or participate in some sort of social sport, which is great. When attending conferences, there are many unofficial groups to help get with common interests together. Running groups are becoming more popular at many conferences, some running groups even get promoted on official event listings. Running is quite popular for conferences as many people are travelling and the equipment overhead is minimal.

One of the best examples of a conference fitness group is #vfit, which was created by Eric Wright. During my talk with Eric, he touched on a great point. With the IT lifestyle and requirements for frequent travel, forming habits that can be applied where ever you are is essential, but not easy to maintain. When travelling for work, especially in the conference scene you will come across a lot of the same faces. Programs like #vfit help encourage activity as quite often, it will be the same people attending.

For me personally, being physically active provides new goals to work towards that aren’t work related. Something I can work towards that is entirely on my shoulders. As I’m sure is common with many people in this industry, I have a lot of trouble switching off from work. Depending on the activity you’ve chosen to do, the physical work can require a lot of effort, it’s hard enough to force focus away from a specific problem at work.

If you’re looking to becoming more physically active, the two biggest pieces of advice I can give are.

  • Start small, start walking during lunch breaks for example. If just walking, take a small notepad and pen. Walking during lunch break is a great way not only to move but you might find that you’ve discovered a solution to a problem that you’ve been stuck on. If your goal is just to move a bit more, walking during lunch breaks is fantastic.
  • Find what is of interest to you. If you’re a very social person, maybe a team sport might be appealing. If you prefer isolation, maybe swimming. Take the time to try a few different things. In the end of the day if the activity isn’t interesting chances are you probably won’t keep doing it.
  • Beware of fads. Fitness trackers, significant diet swings, compression clothing etc. Have minimal impact on just being more active. In my opinion, if you feel like spending money, shoes are one of the best starting places.
  • When travelling, look at clothing options such as Nike DriFit or Adidas Climate Cool, these types of materials dry very fast, which means you don’t have to take as much with you. Workout in the morning, wash the item of clothing in the sink and hang in the shower at the hotel. Should be ready to go fro the next morning.
  • If you start with a friend and they decided it’s not for them, don’t use it as an excuse to stop yourself.

At the end of the day, the human body is built to move, not be sedentary. Whether it’s a stroll, sprint or parkour, moving is good. From a work perspective, it can help prevent burn out by taking your mind off work, but at the same time can help new ideas flourish.