100 Healthy Hacks for Tech and Gadget Geeks
November 22, 2009
There’s a dirty little stereotype flying around that techies and geeks aren’t the healthiest people around. With busy, unpredictable schedules that chain you to your computer or project all day (and sometimes all night), it’s hard to eat right, maintain good posture, and remember to go to the doctor for your annual check-up. Here are 100 healthy hacks for tech and gadget geeks who want to get in shape and turn the stereotype around.
Give your back, wrists and eyes a break when you practice these ergonomics exercises and techniques.
- Get an ergonomic keyboard: Get an ergonomic keyboard to prevent carpal tunnel, which seriously hurts and can really impede your movement and your productivity.
- Adjust your monitor: The top of your screen should be at or slightly below eye level.
- Rest your eyes: Every 20 minutes or so, focus on an object that is at least 20 feet away.
- Avoid repetition: Move your hands, arms, wrists, and neck around to avoid stiffness and too many repetitive tasks, which can lead to carpal tunnel.
- Get a keyboard pullout tray: Your keyboard should actually be below you, on a stable surface (not your lap).
- Keep your computer directly in front of you: Don’t stress your neck or head by twisting them to see your screen.
- Keep your mouse close by: You shouldn’t be reaching across your desk for your mouse.
- Type with your wrists above the keyboard: Only use your wrist rest when taking breaks.
- Adjust contrast: Make sure screen contrast and brightness are at comfortable levels.
- Listen to your body: If you’re experiencing pain or discomfort, it may be time to cut back or work on your posture.
- Carpal tunnel exercises: Do 10 reps of these exercises to combat carpal tunnel.
Don’t succumb to greasy pizza and takeout every day. These healthy foods and eating hacks will help you lose weight, keep up your energy, and feel better.
- Keep healthy snacks at your desk: Stock your mini-fridge or desk drawers with healthier snacks like fruits, veggies and whole-grain cereal bars.
- Spinach and leafy greens: Eating a spinach salad or other leafy greens may protect your eyes from computer glare.
- Drink lots of water: Staying hydrated is important and can keep your energy and focus in top shape.
- Monitor your eating schedule: If you’re lost in a serious project, you might forget to eat, or start snacking mindlessly on anything you can get your hands on. Remember to eat something light every 4 hours if you don’t have time for sit-down meals.
- Dress your pizza the right way: You don’t have to give up pizza altogether: just eat it in moderation and pile on healthy toppings like artichoke hearts, bell peppers, tomatoes, mushroom, spinach, onion or broccoli.
- Watch out for "crash" foods: Junk foods that contain lots of sugar and no complex carbs or protein (like pizza or chips) will make you crash an hour or so later. Eat nuts, whole wheat crackers and cheese instead.
- Pistachios: Pistachios are a healthy nut that can lower blood pressure.
- Whole grains: Those who sit all day may find that belly fat is a problem. You can zap the fat by eating whole grains like brown rice and oatmeal.
- Blueberries: Keep a bowl of blueberries close by for healthy snacking and to improve your focus and maintain cognition.
- Drink black coffee: You’re probably addicted to coffee, but try to drink it black or with skim milk and not lots of creamer and sugar.
- Drink tea: Drink green or black tea instead of coffee every once in a while.
- Pumpkin seeds: Pumpkin seeds are a good alternative to chips and contain magnesium, which is also a muscle relaxant.
- Cold-water fish: Salmon, mackerel and herring are full of omega-3 fatty acids, which is also good for your brain and your heart.
- Eggs or egg whites: Start your day with protein by making eggs.
- Black beans: Make a meal out of black beans or put them on your salad for an excellent serving of fiber, protein, iron, B vitamins and antioxidants.
- Low-fat, low-sugar yogurt: Get calcium and add probiotics, or "good bacteria" to your diet with low-fat, low-sugar yogurt.
- Tomatoes: Tomatoes are another easy food to add to all types of meals and snacks, and they’re one of the biggest sources of carotenoids, which contain antioxidants.
- Quinoa: Quinoa will keep you full longer because it has the most protein of any other grain. It also contains fiber, riboflavin, magnesium and iron.
- Salads: Even if you’re short on time, you can make easy salads that will pack in lots of protein, fiber, veggies and fruits.
- Don’t eat too late at night: You might have a weird schedule, but you should still avoid eating, especially heavy foods, late at night. Eating right before bed or when your metabolism is slowest makes it easy for your body to gain weight.
Make time to exercise, even if it’s just for spontaneous jumping jacks or during your break time.
- Sit on an exercise ball: Strengthen your abs and work on your posture by sitting on a stabilizing exercise ball instead of your regular desk chair.
- Start your own fitness routine: Squeeze in any kind of exercise any way you can, and stick to the same schedule to make it a habit.
- Take a walk after you eat: After heavier meals, take a walk to burn extra calories, improve your digestion and prevent sluggishness.
- Don’t skip a workout: Skipping a workout will make you feel depressed and unmotivated, and more likely to keep skipping in the future.
- Set goals: You’ll be more likely to stick to your exercise plan if you stick personal, reasonable goals.
- Do spontaneous jumping jacks: Spontaneous spurts of exercise: like 5-10 minutes of jumping jacks can blast calories.
- Do something every day: Even light to moderate activity like walking helps.
- Sex: Sex isn’t just a workout: it helps increase blood flow and boosts your mood.
- Work out with a friend: Combine social time with exercise by finding a friend to motivate you.
- Walk or bike when you can: Walk or bike to run errands to get to work.
Here are healthy ways to hack break time and give your body and mind a rest.
- Get up once an hour: Give your eyes, back and wrists a break by getting up once an hour, even if it’s just to walk around the room or take out the trash.
- Take the stairs: If you’re running downstairs on your break or for lunch, take the stairs to get your legs and heart pumping.
- Stretch: Between your "getting up" breaks, take a minute to stretch your neck, arms, back and legs.
- Don’t watch TV: The whole point of taking a break is to give your eyes a rest.
- Get off the computer: You shouldn’t play on the Internet during break time either. Get up and walk around.
- Quit smoking: You don’t need to be a smoker to be entitled to a short break. Quit smoking and use your breaks more productively, to take a walk or eat a healthy snack.
- Take a cat nap: Spin your chair around or find a couch to take a 20-minute cat nap during your break time.
Remember to head to the doctor for regular check-ups and screenings.
- Get your eyes checked: Get your eyes checked to prevent eye strain or eye diseases.
- Check your blood pressure: High blood pressure can be an indicator of other health problems, including stress, and can put you at a greater risk for heart attack.
- Go for regular check-ups and screenings: Remember to go for regular check-ups, screenings and teeth cleanings to make sure you’re in good health overall.
While you’re on the computer anyway, use these health tools to monitor your symptoms, weight, exercise routine and more.
- BMI Calculator: Assess your overall health and decide if you need to lose weight by calculating your BMI.
- Symptom Checker: This interactive tool will help you diagnose a problem.
- The Daily Plate: Count calories and plan meals with this healthy living site.
- Games for Fit Brains: You’re probably working (or overworking) your brain at work, but these fun games can keep you on your toes by introducing you to new challenges.
- SparkPeople: This social network and healthy living community will introduce you to diet and fitness plans just for you.
- Physical Activity in Your Daily Life: Here you’ll be able to figure out which daily chores can cut calories. It’s a good tool to give you ideas for stretching and fitting in "work outs" during your breaks, too.
- Diet and Fitness Assessments: These quizzes and assessments will test stress, motivation, saturated fat intake and more.
- Dietary Guidelines for Americans: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ guide on nutrition can help you pick foods from each food group.
- Healthy Living Calculators: Calculate target heart rate, calories burned, ideal body weight, depression risk, and more.
If you’re of the iPhone persuasion, you’ll like having these healthy living apps handy to remind you to eat right, work out and track your well being.
- WebMD Mobile: This free app connects you to the guides and tools on WebMD.
- Your Ideal Weight: Use this app to set weight-loss goals and figure out your BMI.
- Restaurant Nutrition: Find out the nutrition facts of meals from Arby’s, Burger King, Chick-Fil-A, Chili’s, Dairy Queen and other popular eateries.
- DailyBurn: Track workouts, calories and weight goals with this free app.
- FoodScanner: Get the nutrition facts by scanning UPC barcodes with your iPhone.
- iTreadmill: Turn your iPhone into a pedometer with this app.
- Two Hundred Situps: Get weekly health and fitness tips as this app helps you work up to 200 situps.
- GymGoal: It’s easy to track your favorite workouts and find workouts for different parts of the body with this app.
- Muscle Head and Neck System: Learn about the muscles in your head and neck, and how to relax them.
- HeartWise Blood Pressure Monitor: If you’re worried about your blood pressure, you can track it with this app.
Don’t let the stress of annoying clients and ridiculous workloads get to you. Manage stress with these healthy hacks.
- It’s okay to rant: Through exercise or a rant fest with friends, letting off steam can help you relax.
- Make time for yourself: It’s easy to get lost in your projects, but schedule time each day for something fun.
- Find out what’s expected of you: Prevent unnecessary stress and job burnout by communicating with bosses and clients regularly.
- Learn how to control your reaction: You can’t always control what’s stressing you out, but you can work on ways to deal with issues more constructively.
- Avoid gossip and office conflict: Keep your mind on your work and your own problems.
Make the most of naps and regular sleep to refuel yourself.
- Wind down before bed: Free Geekery reminds you to read, try acupuncture and avoid over-stimulating activities (like TV) before bed.
- Caffeine Naps: This might sound weird, but apparently it works: Drink a cup of coffee and then take a 15-minute nap as a chaser. You’ll feel alert when you wake up.
- Practice getting up when your alarm goes off: During the day when you’re already awake practice responding to your alarm. This strategy makes it easier to wake up in the morning.
- Address anxiety: When you can’t fall asleep because of anxiety, spend the hour before bedtime writing down everything that’s stressing you out.
- Sleep on schedule: Try to go to bed and wake up around the same time even on weekends.
Boost your immunity
Keep your immune system in good shape to avoid getting sick and have more energy.
- Deal with stress: Stress is one of the greatest threats to a healthy immune system, so learn to deal with it appropriately.
- Eat lots of veggies: Eat less red meat and more veggies and chicken soup to boost immunity.
- Get enough sleep: Sleep deprivation can also weaken your immune system.
- Indulge every once in a while: Keeping yourself happy with a piece of chocolate can boost mood and immunity.
- Nuts: Get your healthy fats and oils by eating nuts, which also contain Vitamins C and E.
- Mushrooms: Mushrooms contain cytokines and Vitamin D which are supposed to be good for your immune system.
- Exercise: Reduce stress, sleep better and increase blood flow with moderate exercise.
From flossing to getting sunlight, these daily habits will keep you healthy.
- Get enough natural light: Open the blinds or take your breaks outside to keep your body on a regular schedule and boost your mood.
- Be social: Social interaction can extend your health and improve your mood. Even if you work alone, take some time to chat online with friends or go out for lunch.
- Keep a journal: It sounds sappy, daily or weekly journaling can help you manage stress, track goals, vent, and force you to spend time away from the computer.
- Multitask less: Multitasking can add to stress, mess with your ergonomics strategy and make you lose your focus.
- Clean your house and office: Make sure you dust, vacuum and clear away dirty dishes to avoid getting sick and to keep pests at bay.
- Get out of your pajamas: You’ll be more productive and energetic and will also feel more confident and connected if you shower and get dressed like a "normal" person, even if you work from home.
- Floss: Your oral health is a good indicator for your overall health. Floss to rid your mouth of bacteria and help promote fresh breath.
- Check the A/C: Server rooms are often over-cooled, so ask if it’s okay to adjust the temperature. If you can’t, bring a jacket or sweater to keep yourself comfortable.
- Wash your hands: If you work on other people’s keyboards all day, you’ll want to make sure you wash your hands frequently to avoid getting their germs.
- Get a dog: You’ll find a new purpose, become more responsible and less lonely if you have a dog to take care of.
- Eat breakfast: Eat something for breakfast — even if it’s just a piece of fruit — to jump start your metabolism and give your brain and body an instant dose of energy and nutrition.
- Take a multi-vitamin: Consult with your doctor if you’re not sure which vitamins your body needs most. A multi-vitamin is especially important if you work on an irregular schedule and can’t find time to eat healthy meals all the time.
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