A geeks solution to better health

Paul Boag

Us web designers and website owners tend to be an unhealthy lot. Sitting for hours on end in front of our computers. However, we can lead a more healthy lifestyle. I am.

Ever since I was a child I have always been a stereotypical geek. I was always rubbish at sport and the last to be picked for any team. I suffered from allergies which meant that outdoor sports in the summer were like hell on earth. As the winter I never understood the point of playing a game like rugby on frozen ground.

Fortunately for me most of my life I have been the kind of person who remains relatively slim no matter what I eat or how little exercise I do. This is helped me hide in multitude of sins from bad diet to endless hours spent just sitting in front of my computer.

However about two years ago I began to notice the detrimental effect my lifestyle was having on me. My lack of exercise and poor diet and finally overcome my high metabolism. I began to put on weight and noticed how even a little exertion would exhaust me. On top of that my lack of exercise and poor diet was beginning to affect my mental health too. I was finding myself suffering from bouts of depression and lethargy. Eventually I decided it was time to do something about this.

Watching my weight

Being the geek I am I turn to technology as the answer. I decided to start by losing some weight and generally eating healthier. As my wife was a Weight Watchers leader I decided to give that a try. My first stop was the iPhone App Store where I discovered iWatchr, a great application for tracking your Weight Watchers points. In addition I also purchased a set of Withing scales. These Internet enabled scales transfer data about your weight to their web application and you can also access all of the data from their iPhone app. For some reason having this date are available on my iPhone turned it into some kind of game in my head. I found myself being very competitive and wanting to see my weights line heading downwards.

Introducing exercise

With my weight heading in the right direction I decided to add some exercise into the mix. After trying numerous iPhone apps I eventually settled on Crunchfu. Again this game like qualities and social aspects hooked me very quickly. Being able to challenge my friends and share my successes online inspired me to the point where I went from being able to do 20 crunches to over 200. In fact I found this application so much fun but I quickly added Pushupfu into the mix. By using Omnifocus to remind me to do my daily exercises it quickly became a part of my normal routine.

Improving my posture

My next challenge is to address my posture. Years of sitting in front of a computer and left me with rounded shoulders. Once again my wife has been my inspiration as she does yoga regularly and that has done wonders for her posture. That said I have no intention of going to my local yoga class which seems to be entirely full of middle-aged women! I have therefore once again turned to iPhone applications as the answer. After looking at numerous yoga applications I finally settled All-In Yoga. Although the application is primarily aimed at women I can assure you it is extremely effective and very challenging. It is certainly an effective workout.

All-in YOGA iPhone App

Of course a few minutes of yoga every day is not going to make up for the eight hours of sitting hunched over a computer. I have therefore turned to Posture Coach to help me with that. You simply place your iPhone in a shirt pocket or hang it around your neck and it will be with you every time your posture becomes bad. It’s a great way to get you sitting up straight while working at your computer.

Turning exercise into a game

Although I still would not consider myself fit I do feel that I’ve found a “geek solution” to our very unhealthy lifestyle. However this week has seen the launch of one more iPhone application that is aimed specifically at improving the health of those of us who spend our lives sitting in front of computers.

The application is called FitFu and comes from the same people who produce PressupFu and CrunchFu. The application encourages us to take regular small breaks from work to do a small amount of exercise. The real genius of the application is that you can compete against friends and level up like you would do in a computer game. You earn experience points, increase in levels and win prizes the more exercise you do. Also if you do not exercise regularly you actually lose experience points over time. This makes the application incredibly addictive. It does a brilliant job at bringing out the competitive nature I have had playing computer games for years and tapping in to my OCD tendencies.

FitFu iPhone App

The reason I share all of this with you is that as I attend web design conferences I look around the room and see large numbers of young men living on borrowed time. Many of those in new audience are like I used to be. They live unhealthy lifestyles, and worked long hours, but get away with it because they are still young. The time will come however when they will pay the price and I hope this post will encourage both them and you to take action now using some of these cool applications I have suggested.

And if after reading this you decide to try out FitFu then I would encourage you to add me as a friend. My username is unsurprisingly “Boagworld”.