Health and fitness in the IT world...

Do companies care about people’s health? The IT community says yes, but it’s still up to you to push, they won’t do it for you.

Sports, games, health and fitness are not part of everyday office life, quite the opposite for most, but could we be at the beginning of a movement that has been teasing us all for a while now? Is it time for the fat-cats to be more focused on health over profit? (wishful thinking, we think).

The promising news, is that IT people are leading the charge to change working culture and job stereotypes.  Corporate employers are starting to back their staff’s efforts, even when that means more running, and less screen time.

Yes, the once perceived IT nerds are kicking butt, by morphing the unhealthy corporate culture and running the show when it comes to business growth and belly shrinkage.

If that’s what being a geek means, then we want in. Let this be a lesson to all professions, you can be healthier and better at your job, whilst helping others do the same.

As a profession, IT is not alone when it comes to the struggles of eating badly, spending too much time in front of a screen, hunching all day, working too hard, and being tired when they eventually switch off and go home (if any of us do anymore). But, surprisingly it’s the IT world that is pushing back for a better work life balance, finding ways to get active and love the day job more.

Whilst only a few companies energetically promote health, run classes, provide fruit, offer time to keep fit away from the desk, it is usually the case that if one person stands up and requests help with sports and health, it is tough for a company to say no.

Is this HR tick-boxing, or do companies sincerely see the benefits? Being healthy increases your energy levels and keeps you alert.

The problems we all face-off with in office life:

Time. If we code, plan, present and fight problems all day, for 10 to 14 hours, it is difficult to train, get fit and enjoy life to the maximum. The pressures of conforming to work schedules often beat us.

Cake culture. Please stop bringing in the beloved heart attack food. It’s nice you think of us in the office, but a bunch of bananas would be the better option. Healthy gut, happy mind, better at work.

Desk sitting. We are going to look 90 before we’re 60, weak backs, weak necks, slowly but surely sinking towards the key pad.

Tired. Of course, we’re tired, we eat badly, stare at a computer, sit on the sofa, exhaust our brains with taxing development and strategy thought, then those of us luckily enough to have kids, they pile more sleep deprivation on, we should be enjoying this time, not battling it.

Work life balance. Work all week, enjoy (as above, it’s not always that easy) family and friends time at the weekend. Where’s the balance for health and sports?

Computer screens. Even Steve Jobs didn’t allow his children to use a computer for more than 30 minutes a day. It is bad for your eyes and head, we need time outdoors away from digital to fix digital.

Fat. We are getting older, and fatter, as we push into the more senior roles, our bellies tend to grow with careers, it doesn’t have to be that way.

Stereotypes. The IT nerd, if the hat fits, wear it.

Advertising and ease. Generally, if food is advertised, it’s probably bad for you, they know we’re tired, and when we’re tired we want easy, and 99.9% of the world fall to this trap. Same goes for fad diets and exercise routines, we’re suckers for fancy adverts and glossy quick-fix promises.

Morons. They are everywhere, in every office, in every department. Mostly down to laziness or perceived stupidity. But, maybe if we spent less time dealing with their crud, and more time getting them healthier and happier, they may be less moronic?

How IT people are re-developing our office culture, over and above the apps they make… <!--[if !supportLineBreakNewLine]-->

It’s all BS, the IT crowd realise that. Not only are IT people shifting the hours we work, demanding a greater life-balanced work environment, but behind accounting (yes, accounting), IT is the lead profession to join mass-participation sporting events.

IT people are taking over – they are literally running the show. They’re getting lean, being more resilient, recovering quicker, manage hybrid approaches, developing, calculating risk and choosing more effective paths to success. Can we get any more IT puns in?

In the US and UK a combined 91 million people cycled last year (wow), 34 million played golf and 27 million finished a running race, so there are plenty of people that like to stay active in their weekends, morning and evenings. Why not have more of this fun at work?

On average, 50% of the adult world have one or more active hobby, and when surveyed, a whopping 90% said they’d like to do more, but have limited time due to work, information taken from the Office of National Statistics.

The leading activities in IT (not including screen based hobbies) are running, cycling, triathlons and golf. A focused study, conducted by the sports community company IT Games Club, into why senior IT people become weekend warriors of health and fitness, provided a number interesting statements from IT leaders:

 “To embrace this age of digital transformation, you must also transform yourself. Let’s not have the reality of Wall-E reach us just yet, we as IT and business leaders are smarter than that”.

From the CTO of a global bank, commenting on the vulgarities of modern life and work pressures. He sees a better way, choosing to work hard, play hard and smash triathlons at the weekend, alongside his friends and family.

The same study showed that if one person within a working team loves health and fitness, the rest of the team are more likely to get involved. 40% of new runners, triathletes or golfers started with a colleague, citing that they we’re sick of hangovers or tired screen eyes, when their colleagues seemed so up for work and life. 100% of those newbies said it was worth every drop of sweat or fluffed golf swing, when they finally crossed the finish line or hit that par.

So why don’t work do more to promote this? Because it’s a perceived cost and distraction we suppose, but anyone that has read this far knows the positives outweigh the negatives, even for a profit-led company.

HR and Leadership will back you if you show them it’s worth it. Here’s how you can make a difference, and get more done, without eating into work productivity or family time, in fact you can make all three of life elements stronger. Better at work, healthier and happier family time. What else do we want in life?

Get work involved. Promote health and sports to colleagues, join a running club at work, start a club, colleagues will appreciate it. If you have a strategy meeting, do it whilst playing golf. I kid you not, this works, you will be better at your job if you mix some fun. A successful leadership career is not about being a tyrant, working every hour, it’s about leading, inspiring, planning and delivering – all things that can be done whilst jogging and hitting the greens.

Put time in your diary. Three hours a week, leave the office at 5, or come in at 10, go for a run, go for a walk, jump on the bike or dive into the pool. You will get more work finished, we promise.

Do something every day. No matter how small, some calf raises, some squats, aim low and you’ll be amazed at the impact this can have on your life. Your energy levels will rise, your brain will re-fire and yoru family will see you smile more.

Find like-minded people. Talk about it, be passionate. People at work want to be motivated, you can help, in your own unique way. Leadership is changing, especially in IT, as we transform business and processes, we can now do the same with our teams physical and mental being.

Jeez, get out there and enjoy life. We’re not just IT geeks, we’re leaders that strive for things.

There are even companies now, dedicated to helping the IT community be more active, sponsored by leading IT giants such as Dell EMC, VMware and Sungard Availability Services, partnering with sporting cornerstones such as iTAB. It’s an exciting place to be, a senior career in IT, you now have support of the IT industry to help improve your health and life. Lead with positivity, and our careers will grow.

What is IT Games Club?

IT Games Club is for IT professionals that want to be active, run, race, play golf or cycle. If you're senior in your corporate career, and would like more time to focus on outside passions, with a community to help you train, no matter what fitness level you are, then IT Games Club is for you. 

As a free member, you get free training gear, free VIP race entries, free motivation and free prize draws for serious sports giveaways. IT Games Club is here to help you get away from your desk, get active and succeed in health and in your career. Work doesn’t have to be computers only!

IT Games Club will continue to run surveys across its member base, to see where the IT industry is looking for help and support in getting, or remaining healthy.

IT Games Club is supported by a growing number of global IT companies, and aims to bring sport and fitness to the forefront of the IT industry. Challenging and motivating the industry to get fitter and healthier. If you are a senior IT professional who would like motivation and free entry into events around the world, then join up today, membership is free (and always will be). As we grow, we will be opening up membership to a wider audience in the industry and across more sports and pastimes.