4 Major Benefits of Walking as a Software Developer
We all know sitting down for long periods of time is unhealthy but you're missing out on a bunch of cool perks by not going AFK.
I’ve been walking and sometimes running every day for the last 5 years. Sure, I’ve taken a few days off due to uncontrollable circumstances like recovering from surgery but other than that I follow the same motto as a US postal worker, which is:
Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.
I’ve walked in near-hurricanes, 3 feet of snow and 98f / 36c 100% humidity weather and it’s not to prove how manly I am, and it’s certainly not because I’m some type of hippy who is trying to become one with mother nature.
I walk because it makes me a better software developer and it improves my quality of life.
I walk about 6 miles a day which is broken up into 2-3x 2-3 mile sessions which each take around 30 minutes. I don’t time things down exactly but I always do at least an hour a day.
Walking Helps You Solve Programming Problems
I don’t know about you, but often times when I’m trying to solve a tough problem, my first line of attack is to break it down into bite size chunks. That works great, but certain types of problems can’t be solved like that.
For example, if you’re trying to come up with a good data model relationship or doing something that’s highly creative, sometimes the best way to solve these types of problems are to step back and let your brain subconsciously work on it.
Actively thinking about the problem does more harm than good. How many times have you worked on something, then went to sleep and figured out the solution moments after waking up? That happens to me really often.
Walking helps you get into that state of mind. It clears your head. As long as you avoid thinking about your problem directly, you’ll be well on your way to solve your problem.
A 30 minute walk is way more productive than spinning your wheels at your desk for 2 hours while you get frustrated and distracted. That’s negative efficiency.
Walking Gives You Permission to Learn New Things
This is my favorite part of walking. I’m a very visual learner, which means I learn best by watching video but audio is also really good.
Walking is an excellent time to listen to audiobooks or podcasts. If you walk 1 hour a day for 7 days, that’s 7 hours worth of audio you can absorb.
Realistically that means you could listen to 1 audiobook per week and a couple of podcasts. Think how much more you could learn if you read 50 books a year.
These audiobooks and podcasts keep your mind occupied with new thoughts, and if you read my previous article on diminishing returns, you’ll remember that it’s often a way better use of time to learn something new that’s semi-related to programming, rather than putting even more time into programming material once you get to a certain point.
I like listening to books written by ancient philosophers, general business books and other books that an entrepreneur would find useful but feel free to listen to whatever interests you.
I used to think walking was a waste time, but if you can multi-task walking with something like audiobooks then you’re making very good use of your time. We live busy lives so it’s often hard to squeeze in time for things like this. Now you have permission to do so.
By the way, you should turn airplane mode on with your phone so you don’t get distracted by bullshit. Just download your audiobooks and podcasts before you go out. This is your time to absorb highly engaging audio, not troll HackerNews.
Walking Helps You Find Freelancing Gigs
This one is fun. I live in the suburbs. It’s not in the middle of no where, but it’s definitely nothing like New York City.
There’s paved roads and very little people walking around, but there are a lot of business related trucks and people doing work. This is prime pickings for getting side gigs.
All you have to do is approach these people and start talking. You’re 1 conversation away from landing a $4,000 basic WordPress gig because a ton of these businesses have no website.
Sure, it might not be your favorite thing to do in the world but it certainly helps pay the bills and often times these gigs lead into more interesting programming jobs.
For example, after you make them very happy with their new site, they may ask you to write custom software that helps run their business more efficiently. This is where you can end up walking away with a $20,000 contract.
It all starts with taking action and putting yourself in a position to get this type of work, and you’ll probably walk past at least 10 of these people per day in a moderately populated town. I wrote about this a bit in a previous article on how to start a successful freelance business as a software developer.
Walking Makes You Healthier
I saved this one for last because it’s the most obvious and I’m sure you know the dangers of being very inactive at a desk. Walking will get you in pretty good shape on its own.
Not just physical health too. It helps reduce anxiety and I have no scientific data to back this statement up but I honestly feel less dumb after walking. Things seem easier after a nice ~2 mile walk. I just feel like I have a higher level of clarity in general.
I’d love to know what your walking schedule is like. Let me know below.