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The Healthy Programmer: Get Fit, Feel Better, and Keep Coding


Cover image for The Healthy Programmer

The Healthy Programmer

Get Fit, Feel Better, and Keep Coding


To keep doing what you love, you need to maintain your own systems, not just the ones you write code for. Regular exercise and proper nutrition help you learn, remember, concentrate, and be creative—skills critical to doing your job well. Learn how to change your work habits, master exercises that make working at a computer more comfortable, and develop a plan to keep fit, healthy, and sharp for years to come.

This book is intended only as an informative guide for those wishing to know more about health issues. In no way is this book intended to replace, countermand, or conflict with the advice given to you by your own healthcare provider including Physician, Nurse Practitioner, Physician Assistant, Registered Dietician, and other licensed professionals.

Printed in full color.

This title is also available as an audio book

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Read the IT World review "here":

Customer Reviews

Joe Kutner offers practical, readable, and well-researched advice for those who
sit at a keyboard. I’ve incorporated his health-and-fitness regimen into my writing

- Dr. Steve Overman

Professor of Physical Education (retired), Jackson State University

In our sedentary office work, we often forget that an absence of health is as bad as a lack of programming skills. Joe points out a dozen
areas where you and I can do better. Every office worker should read this book and self-reflect on health improvements.

- Staffan Nöteberg

Author, "Pomodoro Technique Illustrated"

This book introduced me to the term conditioned hypereating. It felt life-changing.
Being aware of this has made it easier to experiment with smaller, less-ambitious
changes that actually have a chance at succeeding. I’m very curious to see where
this puts me a year from now.

- Katrina Owen

Developer, Jumpstart Lab

The Healthy Programmer is excellent. In many ways it’s a spiritual continuation
of The Hacker’s Diet.

- Stephen Ball

Senior Rails programmer, PhishMe, Inc.

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About this Title

Pages: 252
Published: 2013-06-21
Release: P2.0 (2020-04-21)
ISBN: 978-1-93778-531-4

Small changes to your habits can improve your health—without getting in the way of your work. The Healthy Programmer gives you a daily plan of action that’s incremental and iterative just like the software development processes you’re used to. Every tip, trick, and best practice is backed up by the advice of doctors, scientists, therapists, nutritionists, and numerous fitness experts.

We’ll review the latest scientific research to understand how being healthy is good for your body and mind. You’ll start by adding a small amount of simple activity to your day—no trips to the gym needed. You’ll learn how to mitigate back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, headaches, and many other common sources of pain.

You’ll also learn how to refactor your diet to properly fuel your body without gaining weight or feeling hungry. Then, you’ll turn the exercises and activities into a pragmatic workout methodology that doesn’t interfere with the demands of your job and may actually improve your cognitive skills.

You’ll also learn the secrets of prominent figures in the software community who turned their health around by making diet and exercise changes. Throughout, you’ll track your progress with a companion iPhone app.

Finally, you’ll learn how to make your healthy lifestyle pragmatic, attainable, and fun. If you’re going to live well, you should enjoy it.

Read the "slashdot review here":


This book is intended only as an informative guide for those wishing to know more about health issues. In no way is this book intended to replace, countermand, or conflict with the advice given to you by your own healthcare provider including Physician, Nurse Practitioner, Physician Assistant, Registered Dietician, and other licensed professionals.

Keep in mind that results vary from person to person. This book is not intended as a substitute for medical or nutritional advice from a healthcare provider or dietician. Some people have a medical history and/or condition and/or nutritional requirements that warrant individualized recommendations and, in some cases, medications and healthcare surveillance.

Do not start, stop, or change medication and dietary recommendations without professional medical and/or Registered Dietician advice. A healthcare provider should be consulted if you are on medication or if there are any symptoms that may require diagnosis or medical attention. Do not change your diet if you are ill, or on medication except under the supervision of a healthcare provider. Neither this, nor any other book or discussion forum is intended to take the place of personalized medical care of treatment provided by your healthcare provider.

This book was current as of January, 2013 and as new information becomes available through research, experience, or changes to product contents, some of the data in this book may become invalid. You should seek the most up to date information on your medical care and treatment from your health care professional. The ultimate decision concerning care should be made between you and your healthcare provider.

Information in this book is general and is offered with no guarantees on the part of the author, editor or The Pragmatic Programmers, LLC. The author, editors and publisher disclaim all liability in connection with the use of this book.

What You Need

You’ll need a pair of walking shoes and a positive attitude.


Contents & Extracts


  • Making Changes
    • Unit-Testing Your Health
    • The Mind-Body Connection
    • An Iterative Approach to Health
    • The Science Behind Habits
    • Reprogramming Your Habits
    • Retrospective
  • Bootstrapping Your Health
    • Thinking On Your Feet
    • Walking Your Way to Better Health
    • The Time of Your Life
    • Learning How to Walk
    • Getting Out the Door
    • Retrospective
  • A Farewell to Chairs?
  • Agile Dieting
    • An Iterative Approach to Dieting
    • Balanced Nutrition Over Idiosyncratic Diets
    • Eating Your Brains Out
    • Counting Calories Over Following Trends
    • Adjusting Your Caloric Intake
    • Individual Tastes Over Predefined Menus
    • Retrospective
  • Preventing Headaches and Eye Strain
    • Unit-Testing Your Vision
    • Avoiding Computer Vision Syndrome
    • Avoiding Headache Triggers
    • Treating Headache Symptoms
    • Retrospective
  • Preventing Back Pain
    • Unit-Testing Your Core Muscles
    • Understanding the Anatomy of the Back
    • Strengthening Your Powerhouse
    • Developing Better Ergonomics
    • Retrospective
  • Preventing Wrist Pain
    • Unit-Testing Your Wrists
    • Understanding the Causes of Wrist Pain
    • Using Exercise to Prevent Pain
    • Reducing Tension with the Alexander Technique
    • Restricting Movement with Braces
    • Retrospective
  • Making Exercise Pragmatic
  • Thinking Outside the Cube
    • Dosing on Vitamin D
    • Shedding Light on the Vitamin D Hype
    • Boosting Your Immune System
    • Dealing with the Common Cold
    • Thinking Under the Trees
    • Retrospective
  • Refactoring Your Fitness
    • Warming Up
    • Understanding the Dimensions of Fitness
    • Unit-Testing Your Fitness
    • Upgrading Your Hardware
    • Retrospective
  • Teaming Up
    • Message-Passing
    • Investing in Your Health
    • Playing Well with Others
    • Building a Better Team
    • Retrospective
  • Onward, Healthy Programmer
    • Continuous Improvement
    • Creating Social Habits
    • The Joy of Being Healthy
  • Goals
  • Examples
    • Examples of Fruit/Vegetable Servings
    • Example Day
  • Further Reading
    • Books
    • Publications
  • Bibliography


Joe Kutner has been a programmer for over a decade and he’s spent many of those years researching the health issues that relate to his sedentary job. He’s also a former college athlete and Army Reserve physical fitness trainer. Through his research and personal experience, he’s learned that small changes can make big differences in peoples’ health. Now he wants to help other programmers improve their lifestyles.