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I love programming, but excessive programming is bad for health/sanity.

So I want to make it my goal to exercise for at least 30 minutes after work. I can't exercise right after work since my commute takes long time, and by the time I am home I am so hungry I could eat a horse.
So if I eat, then I can probably start exercising at around 19:45-20:00
By that time however I am so deep into programming personal projects that I can't pull myself out to do something physical. Even if I somehow manage to do that, my mind is completely absent from the workout and I half ass things.
It is completely impossible for me to exercise in the morning or any other time except 8.

Any suggestions on techniques to motivate oneself to exercise and stop being immensed in another task?

EDIT: just to clarify few things.
I travel to work which is two cities away from me via train. The trip takes around 2 hours, and there is very little room to run since both my home and work are located 5 minute's walk from the train stations. My only workout I can do during travel is try to lean against a wall in sitting position in the train to exercise my legs.
And I can't exercise in the morning for the same reason because i already wake up around 5:30 to get to work.
Additionally I am not obese or in any bad shape now for the time being, but sitting 16+ hours a day can make me. And by absent minded I mean instead of focusing on exercise I am daydreaming about the problem that I am still trying to solve, if I ever manage to pull myself away from computer.

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3 Answers 3

up vote 3 down vote accepted

You mention that you have a long commute. How long? Do you commute by car, train, bus? Is it possible for you to work exercise into your commute? For instance, some places have park and ride, could you ride a bicycle to such a place, then commute the rest of the way by train or bus?

You also mention that by the time you are home you are "so hungry I could eat a horse". I have found it helpful to avoid being so hungry, as the lack of glucose in the brain can be a serious demotivating factor. I would recommend always having a piece of fruit available as a snack: an apple or banana perhaps, something healthy that you like and which will help you to keep your hunger to a more manageable level. This in turn can help you maintain the motivation to exercise as hunger will not be as pressing. I have found that avoiding over-hunger also helps avoid over-eating which in itself can reduce motivation as blood flow is diverted away from the brain towards digestion.

Finally, I am unsure what you mean by your mind being completely absent from the workout. Strenuous exercise diverts calories away from your brain and you should not expect to be having thoughts about other things during your workout. Clear your mind, have a clear picture of what you are going to do in your workout, and then do it.

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Genius!!! In the past year and a half it has not actually occurred to me to bring two lunches and eat one before I leave work. That way I do not have to stop programming to exercise, and will still get to exercise before programming. –  Quillion Mar 19 at 13:28
    
+1 for taking a more distant train station, and go there by bike! –  Uri Agassi Mar 21 at 16:02

Well, a heart attack or diabetes might be a good motivator, but they often take a lot of time to achieve. Since the knowledge of living an unhealthy lifestyle isn't a strong enough motivator for you, perhaps a practical change to your schedule might help.

Take and eat a snack while you are commuting (something not messy or smelly, which won't offend or distract), or if you are driving, something right before you leave for your commute. Also drink some water. If you eat something before you leave on the commute, you won't be quite so hungry when you get home. That will give you an opportunity to exercise right away when arriving home.

It is completely impossible

In time management, very few things are completely impossible if you consider them important enough. They're only impossible if they aren't as important as other tasks. Until exercise becomes a higher priority, you will continue to find reasons you can't fit it in.

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Option 1: Parallelize tasks

Can you program while travelling between cities?

In the inability to reduce travel time, I would check if it is possible to do a task in parallel. I myself program, so I realize programming while travelling has the following issues:

  • battery life (bring your charger to work, charge your laptop there)
  • coding offline is more difficult if you need the docs (if you can get a connection with mobile internet this may mitigate the issue)

Option 2: Shift your routine

In my schedule, I shifted from waking up ~7am and spending an hour each way to work, to waking up ~5am and spending 15~20 minutes each way (traffic). This meant I had to sleep earlier (around 9pm). I know you've mentioned that you already wake up at 5:30 am, but consider waking up an hour earlier and sleeping an hour earlier. Challenge here would be whether you've got cold temperatures (which means exercising in the early hours is not viable).

This is a link to my routine a while back. Includes a lot of micro-management (which I don't strictly follow anymore).

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