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Staying Healthy When Working 12 Hours a Day? 204

dwija asks: "I just got a new job where I just sit in one place all day and work for 12 hours at a stretch. This goes on for 4 days a week and I get 3 days off. The journey to and from my office takes up about 3 hours of my day. I am a little worried now cause i am becoming really weak and I am not as healthy as I used to be. I want to ask others on Slashdot about the kinds of weird times in which they work and what they do to take care of their health and stress."
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Staying Healthy When Working 12 Hours a Day?

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  • by Jerf ( 17166 ) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @08:03PM (#11855692) Journal
    Quit and find a new job, because if your current job is taking your health, you're actually working 168 hours a week.

    And I bet your hourly pay sucks.

    And it could be worse than that... if it takes years off your life, you could be "working" more than 168 hours a week.... arbitrarily more.

    What you are doing is something that you are simply not designed to do. Some people may be able to do it, neither you nor I are one of them. Stop it, or pay the penalty, collected by Reality, the least lenient loan shark of them all.
    • by Bios_Hakr ( 68586 ) <[xptical] [at] []> on Sunday March 06, 2005 @02:00AM (#11857351)
      A 4&3 is not a bad schedule. Even with 12-hour shifts.

      It's the three-hour commute that's killing him.

      For a lot of the last 10 years, I've worked a 3-on, 3-off, 2-on, 2-off schedule with 12s. It really isn't bad.

      Look at it this way, with his schedule, he's working less than 50 hours a week. Most people work at least 9 hours a day. The employer takes an hour for lunch leaving you 40 hours. If you ever work a weekend or stay late more than twice a week, then you have gone over 48 hours.

      But that commute...

      It's simple: Live where you work. Get an apartment close to where you work and live there. If you have a family and are not willing to move, then quit.

      Another idea is to get a hotel close to work once a week. If the pay is good enough to offset a $60 hotel room, then try it. Staying in a hotel the 3rd night of your week will feel like a dream.

      What you really need to do is get some 15lb dumbells and start using them.

      Do 10 pushups every other hour. Aim for 50 the first 2 weeks and add a few more each week after. Shoot for 20 pushups at a time and 120 per day.

      Same with situps. If you work buisness casual, a towel will keep your shirt clean. Get a sit-up bar for your feet or just hook them under the edge of your desk.

      Do curls, squats, upright rows, military presses, and other creative exercises with the dumbells. Agian, no more than 10 or 20 at a time. But you will be doing them throughout the shift.

      It'll keep your metabolism high and make you feel a lot better.

      Get some alcohol, talcum powder, hand lotion, and a clean rag for your drawer.

      If you feel sweaty, use the rag doused with some alcohol to clean the sweat. Use talc to prevent sweat to begin with. Hand lotion is for your hands; push-ups and dumbells can wreak havoc on girly-hands.

      Anyway, good luck.
      • Get some alcohol ... [in] your drawer.

        Forget the rest!

      • It's the three-hour commute that's killing him.

        Bring a sleeping bag to work.
      • My brother-in-law's situation is somewhat similar. In his case, it was a deal he made so he could take a job in another city without relocating his family. Rather than killing himself with a daily commute, he has a tiny apartment in the other city, which is where he stays those three nights each week. It's just a bed, a minifridge, a microwave, a comfy chair, and a TV, but since all he needs is a place to unwind a little, eat, and sleep, it's enough. (For a while he rented a spare room from a coworker w
    • I wouldn't be worried about your physical health but rather your mental health.
  • .. in chocolate, pizza and cola :)

    Seriously, though, the only thing you can do is to try and eat healthily and find time a couple of times a week for the gym. If you can get to cycle to/from work some of the time, it is a big help
    • Re:Take solace... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by BoomerSooner ( 308737 ) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @08:30PM (#11855837) Homepage Journal
      3 hours by car is frequently more by bicycle. However it would probably help his fitness.
      • Modified simpsons quote:

        I get up, bike 5 hours to work, work for 12 hours, bike 5 hours home, eat dinner, sleep for 6 minutes, get up, shower, sleep for 5 more minutes, and im off to work fresh as a daisy!
      • Re:Take solace... (Score:5, Informative)

        by bitingduck ( 810730 ) on Sunday March 06, 2005 @01:52PM (#11859268) Homepage
        3 hours by car is frequently more by bicycle

        And sometimes it's pretty comparable. Occasionally in LA I've had to drive to meetings in the morning where it would have been much faster to pedal (I'm a pretty strong cyclist, but even if I weren't it would be comparable and more pleasant). From my house to downtown LA is more than an hour at rush hour by car, but I could probably do it in less than 45 minutes on a bike. In group it would be a lot less than 45 minutes.

        One option that I've seen people use occasionally is to drive partway and bike partway-- find a safe parking spot about 10 miles from the workplace, and bike the last 10 miles (or whatever is comfortable). Or park about 20 minutes by foot away-- even a brisk walk like that twice a day can help a lot. Especially if it breaks up what would otherwise be 15 hours sitting on your butt.
        • My brother did something similar when he worked for Molson in Toronto (Oracle work not work on the manf line (I miss the free beer though)).
          He worked from home 4 out of the 5 days and would drive in most of the way on Fridays to work but would park about 10k away and run the last bit there and back.
      • 3 hours by car is frequently more by bicycle.
        Most likely but not necessarily. It could be extreme traffic that is taking up a good portion of the drive.

        My last job I would take a bus downtown. People couldn't understand it until I pointed out that due to the bussing system here in Ottawa it takes as long by car to get downtown (sometimes longer if the weather is crap) than by bus and saves me a fortune in parking. However I live along the main bus feed. If I was off, this wouldn't be true.

        This is true a
  • Change Jobs (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ridgelift ( 228977 ) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @08:05PM (#11855702)
    Don't do the job. To sit for 15 hours a day straight isn't healthy, and no amount of isometrics or other exercise will help.

    Maybe you can talk to your employer and see if you can work out a compromise. Work is like a rubber ball, if you drop it it'll always bounce back. Your health is like a glass ball, drop it too many times and it'll crack or shatter.
    • well.. if he did sports on the 3 days that he's got off he would be better off probably.

      but the problem really for me would be that 24-15 is just 9 hours. there's not anything you can do in that but sleep.

      but this guys _REAL_ solution is to excersise for like 10 minutes per hour, flex out in front of the desk or whatever. there's very few jobs that would really require you to not get up at all and get some walking around in it... maybe work in a 30 min break, run around the factory or whatever. he'd be in
      • well.. if he did sports on the 3 days that he's got off he would be better off probably
        True, any exercise is better than none but ideally he should be breaking it up to allow the body to recuperate a day before doing it again. He could break up the exercises to isolate during the 3 days off but by the third day the DOMS would be a serious bitch.

        He should see if he can get an extended lunch and get a workout done in there at least once or twice during the 4 days on.
    • by isometrick ( 817436 ) on Sunday March 06, 2005 @04:06AM (#11857638)
      "... no amount of isometrics or other exercise will help."

      I resent that.
  • Health on the job (Score:5, Insightful)

    by the eric conspiracy ( 20178 ) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @08:06PM (#11855709)
    I started having serious health problems - overweight, incipient type 2 diabeties, high blood pressure etc. all pointing to early CV problems.

    The solution was to find a job closer to home and spend no more than 45 hours a day at work. The rest, diet, exercise, etc. became easy after I got away from the pressure cooker.

  • by Spamsonite ( 154239 ) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @08:09PM (#11855732)
    I'm working 7-days a week, 14 hours a day doing IT for the world's largest rodeo in Houston. Like you, I drive approximately 3 hours a day to and from work.

    Even though both caffeine and carbs provide a short-term energy boost, I find that avoiding them completely makes me much more alert and energetic overall. The crash when the caffeine or insulin levels swing knocks me out cold.

    Unlike you, my job has me running all day long, so I don't usually run into trouble until the drive home. If I've kept an even blood-sugar all day, I'm usually just fine. On days when I've had to grab a burger (or worse) for lunch, I sometimes have to stop on the side of the road and catch a short nap to stay safe. Sleeping on the side of the road, even in a well-lit rest stop, is a health risk in it's own right...
    • by Tango42 ( 662363 ) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @08:40PM (#11855894)
      avoiding carbs is basically the same thing as starving. carbohydrates should be your main source of energy - fat and protein don't work anywhere near as well (hence the atkins diet being so bad).

      Did you mean avoid high-sugar foods? You might have something there. Eat complex carbs, not sugars. Eat cereal for breakfast, for example - the carbs will slowly break down giving you energy throughout the day, rather than a quick burst of energy that leaves you feeling worse once it wears off.

      If you really need a quick burst, eat something sugary (dextrose sweets are designed for just such a time) and some more complex (a sandwich, for example) at the same time (well... one after the other is fine... they might not mix well). That way once the sugars wears off the carbs will kick in.
      • To go with the mix of sugar and complex carbs:
        A PB&J sandwich would work. The jelly/jam should have some sugar(either added or from the fruit), then you have some protein from the peanut butter(you will likely have some sugar in there as well depending on the brand), and the complex carbs from the bread.

        Actually, crackers and jam/jelly would probably work as well if you want a bunch of bite size snacks. Just make yourself up a plate to snack on.
        Rice/Corn Cakes with PB & Jelly/Jam also work if you
      • avoiding carbs is basically the same thing as starving. carbohydrates should be your main source of energy - fat and protein don't work anywhere near as well (hence the atkins diet being so bad).

        If this is true, why don't Atkins dieters drop dead due to (energy) starvation, and why do so many of them report increases in energy levels, in ways that can't just be their imagination?

        I've heard theories like yours, but they predict things that don't happen in reality. Therefore, I find myself unable to put mu
      • "avoiding carbs is basically the same thing as starving."

        ROFL. None of them (Atkins, typical US folk) look like they are starving _far_ from it - which is the problem.

        Diets high in protein appear to make most people feel full, that's the biggest benefit - they stop eating because they _feel_ like stopping.

        Whereas the carb diets make many people feel peckish or hungry, or even _starving_ after the blood sugar spikes and then dips/crashes. Sure you lose weight on both type of diets, but pick the one that d
        • I find it odd that you're recommending a Japanese diet and also recommending cutting carbohydrates. Rice is a large part of the traditional Japanese diet.

          As for the whole carbs thing - the extent to which they'll spike your blood sugar will vary a lot. White bread will be converted to sugars much more quickly than brown bread. Stick to the less-processed, high fibre stuff and you'll be fine.

          That's one of the things that annoys me about the Atkins diet - it's generated this popular idea that carbs = bad.
          • White bread will be converted to sugars much more quickly than brown bread.

            Well really most "brown bread" that you purchase in the US is just that...brown bread. It has the same nutritional content as white bread, but has been given a brown color during processing.
            To really find a bread that doesn't cause such a severe spike in your blood sugar levels you'll want to find something that is high in fiber like whole wheat bread. Sadly, many of the breads that we refer to as wheat breads are just those whi

          • I was just refuting points made by the OP.
            1) You don't starve just because you don't have carbs - see Inuits.
            2) Given the quantities popularly consumed - it doesn't matter even if protein and fats are inefficient energy sources as the OP claims.

            The main issue in the USA seems to be people are consuming way too much.

            The Atkins diet is just one of the less evil diets for the typical US folk given the quantities they've grown accustomed to eating.

            I suspect that if a typical obese US American went on a "Japa
        • The protein has nothing to do with feeling full. The feeling of fullness is controlled by the brain's response to glucose. It is believed that over time the brain becomes resistant to glucose and it takes more and more of it to make you feel full. Cutting out the carbs and entering ketosis reduces glucose levels and makes you feel hungry until your brain is no longer used to a flood of glucose, so you end up cramming yourself with food when you go on the diet. Eventually you hardly need any glucose to feel
      • Protein is a poor source of energy. Your body burns it last after EVERYTHING else. Fat is a good source of energy, but it takes your body time to break it down. Carbohydrates are ONLY necessary for READY energy, period. If you need a burst of energy for some purpose it will be hard to get it from fat.

        It's true that sugars and processed starches are the worst, but it's not true that fat is somehow worse than carbohydrates for you - unless it's a trans fat, ala hydrogenated stuff.

        The only difference betwe

    • Watch out for those Safe Clear areas now!
    • You work 14 hours a day, plus a 3 hour commute, plus time for breakfast, lunch, and dinner? If you're lucky, you're at home maybe six and a half hours a day (depending on how long your lunch is).

      But, you still have time to post on slashdot. You are a machine!

      But seriously, have you considered getting an apartment 5 minutes from work? You'd probably end up saving money once you take gas and depreciation into account. No to mention giving you an extra 20 hours a week to do normal human activities, like
  • That's bad... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Otter ( 3800 ) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @08:11PM (#11855748) Journal
    ...but it's not that bad. (It's a crunch-time construction worker schedule, for example.) You should be able to come up with something workable, and if your health is still really suffering, it's suggestive of complete dissatisfaction.

    If you want to stick it out, though, I'd say keys are:

    • Eat right, with healthy food at regular times
    • Get some daylight during the day
    • Get as much sleep as you can (which i tough, since you need to decompress)
    • Take active breaks during the day instead of reading /.
  • balance (Score:3, Insightful)

    by incognitopoet ( 860978 ) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @08:14PM (#11855763)
    I had a job trading currency and derivitives for almost five years. It involved sitting in an office chair for 14 hours a day, five and a half days a week. If you get the right kind of chair it isn't too bad. There is a payoff point at which you make enough money while working to make it up to yourself when you are not working. For me, the birth of my son was an incentive to find ways to be home more, working less.
  • by SunFan ( 845761 ) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @08:14PM (#11855766)

    Find something easier, lest you burn out and become useless. If you feel you are doing the work of two people, it's because your company is too greedy and short sighted to hire someone else. Once they ruin you, they'll just hire some naive college graduate and ruin them too.

    How about you or someone else reveal the company name as 'anonymous coward' if need be, to save the souls of others, who should not be harmed needlessly.

    • by BoomerSooner ( 308737 ) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @08:40PM (#11855895) Homepage Journal
      What if he is his own boss? I'm working 7 days a week and about 10-12 hours a day. The end is in sight but when you're struggling to finish a project sometimes you need to work more.

      To help with my health I workout every morning for about 45 minutes and it gets me going for the day. I'm worried about getting diabetes and so I choose to do something about it, exercise daily (M-F), quit drinking soda (& caffiene), and limit my calorie intake (~2000 cal/day). I've lost about 45 lbs and have 20~25 to get to my college/poor person weight. Not to mention I will be fit again when I get there. If I can do it anyone can. Quitting caffiene was hard for about a week (3 days of headaches and 4 days of craving sodas) but I sleep better and wake up without needing my alarm. I used to drink about 3-4 liters of soda so 90% of my days calories were coming from there.

      And like the other people said, you can always find another job.
      • by dubl-u ( 51156 ) *
        Quitting caffiene was hard for about a week (3 days of headaches and 4 days of craving sodas) but I sleep better and wake up without needing my alarm.

        Quick tip: if you taper off caffeine, ending with circa 1/2 cup of soda per day for a few days, you can generally avoid the headaches.

        Also, one of the best things I did for my health was to stop using my alarm clock most of the time. That forced me to go to bed on time.
  • Sitting?? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MrWa ( 144753 ) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @08:19PM (#11855786) Homepage
    Do you have to sit the entire time? Instead of sitting for 12 hours at a stretch, you could actually stretch during that time. Unless you actively doing something the entire time - sounds unlikely and you are probably watching something - you can watch whatever it is you are supposed be watching and stretch at the same time. Not only will this be healthier, it will help you stay alert and perform better.

    Be sure to get out on your days off. Don't think that three days of no work equals a three day weekend where you can game for 24+ hours at a time. Take advantage of the extended time off that most of us, with jobs, dream about and go places, do stuff, and be active!

  • zerg (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Lord Omlette ( 124579 ) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @08:25PM (#11855816) Homepage
    You've got to eat healty, cut out the chips & cookies and soda.

    Also, you can't be working 12 hours straight, because if you don't get up to walk around for a minute every ~45 minutes, you'll go blind. Anyone who tells you otherwise is begging for a visit from OSHA.
  • Quit your job (Score:4, Interesting)

    by anpe ( 217106 ) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @08:28PM (#11855829)
    There's nothing that justifies the fact you'll give away your health for money.
    Move to another city, state or country. Don't put yourself any artificial constraint. There are lots of places on earth where you'll get a decent life. Move.
    • Re:Quit your job (Score:5, Insightful)

      by BrookHarty ( 9119 ) on Sunday March 06, 2005 @12:04AM (#11856940) Homepage Journal
      There's nothing that justifies the fact you'll give away your health for money.
      Move to another city, state or country. Don't put yourself any artificial constraint. There are lots of places on earth where you'll get a decent life. Move.

      I was going to mod you up, but I wanted to expand on your comment.

      The biggest problem with corporations is they can burn you out if its cost effective. Workers are not treated as human beings, they are treated as cattle, if they can make money by working you harder and getting away with it, they will do it.

      Thats the problem, people think that corporations will follow the rules, try to make the best working environment they can. Thats not true, the have a responsibility to make money for investors, period. This is why unions where formed for the back breaking and dangerous jobs, to give some sort of safe working environment to the workers.

      No forward 40 years, now people are working in an office. Its not back breaking, so the want longer hours, no OT, and if you are lucky your benefits will include the counseling you need when you loose your family due to divorce. Don't think your wife will put up with it..

      Seriously, how many hours should a person be working? How many hours for that is commute time? You give up your vacations because you have a deadline? You working longer hours for crunch time? You think that 2 dollar an hour more is worth your family time?

      Doesn't make sense you would trade your health for a short term job, because you will burn out.

      But, if your 18 or just out of college these jobs look attractive, good pay, good beneifits, and hey, you work for a fortune 500 company... Be careful..

      Also, hey, if you do burn out, they have insurance right?
  • Excersize at work (Score:3, Interesting)

    by n1ywb ( 555767 ) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @08:37PM (#11855878) Homepage Journal
    Do you have stairs? Climbing stairs is great exercise that will get your heart rate up really fast. If you take two or three 10 minute stair climbing breaks per day, it will increase your average metabolism, even when you are sitting around.

    Also, exercise like a bastard on your days off.

    • by Deagol ( 323173 )
      Sound advice, and it can be possible to work such things into your daily routine.

      When I went into the office (before I started telecommuting) I'd park in a lot on campus (worked at a large university) that was close to a mile from my building. In the morning, that was mostly a downhill walk; likewise an uphill walk at the end of the day.

      So, 1.9 miles of brisk walking I wouldn't otherwise take at the cost of maybe 10 minutes each way.

      Next, I stopped using the elevator for getting to my 4th floor offic

      • Elevators are for the weak/injured, people with large packages, skyscraper-dwellers, and people who hate themselves. People who take elevators down are especially suspect in their common sense; there's a reason they're called "elevators" (or "lifts"), people.

        I stopped using elevators a few years ago. I do hands-on tech support in an 8-story building, and the only time I push a button to change floors is when I'm carrying something heavy or pushing a cart. It hasn't turned me into Charles Atlas, but I'm

        • Re:Excersize at work (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Xner ( 96363 ) on Sunday March 06, 2005 @02:14PM (#11859411) Homepage
          Elevators are for the weak/injured, people with large packages, skyscraper-dwellers, and people who hate themselves. People who take elevators down are especially suspect in their common sense; there's a reason they're called "elevators" (or "lifts"), people.

          Walking stairs downwards is actually a lot heavier on the knees than walkign them upwards, especially if you have a pre-existing condition (sports injury) or are overweight (larger forces on the joints). I'd therefore tend to reccomend that people that are hopelessly out of shape start out by taking the stairs when going up, and the lift when goign down.

    • Even better: if they have showers at your office building: bring your running shoes and go out at lunch. A 30 minute run is more than enough. The first few times are exhausting, but you'll gradually have more energy, both physical and mental.
  • by gvc ( 167165 ) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @08:38PM (#11855885)
    Mail order for $800.00 from Concept II []

    Rowing is low-impact, aerobic, and you can start
    as slowly as you like. 30 mins a day while you
    listen to the radio, watch TV, or just ponder your
    latest bug.

    The unit I mentioned above is suitable for
    beginners through elite athletes.

    Definite nerd appeal with a USB connection and
    a wireless heart monitor. Lots of builtin
    stats and uses a plug-in memory card.
    Regenerative power means a D-cell lasts years.

    I'm on my 2nd rowing machine (the first was
    a competitor but it did last a dozen years
    and thousands of kms). I'm about to hit 1000
    km on this one.

    No other $800 piece of exercise equipment will
    dissipate enough energy (without self-destructing)
    to give you a decent workout. You'd have to
    drop more than $3K to get a treadmill anywhere
    neare as durable. And getting on your feet to
    walk/run requires a lot more motivation than
    sitting down on the rower.
    • by cide1 ( 126814 )
      I have rowed at the University level (Purdue in the U.S.) and can honestly say that out of all cardio exercises, I find rowing to be the easiest on the body. When done intensely and incorrectly, it can be hard on the back and knees. This is rare, and more likely a result of bad form.

      A rowing machine (most often called an erg), is a lot more than just a piece of exercise equipment. Many work very hard on achieving certain goals, such as 1 million meters, or rowing a marathon. At the university level, we
  • Get excercise! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Pathwalker ( 103 ) * <> on Saturday March 05, 2005 @08:39PM (#11855886) Homepage Journal
    I work 12 hour night shifts, alternating between 3 and 4 days a week; I have worked this shift since 2001.

    The two biggest things to remember are:
    • Take breaks
    • Get Excercise
    I keep a copy of xwrits [] running on my workstation.
    When it goes off, I go run up and down an eight story staircase [] a couple of times before going back to work.

    It's worked out pretty well for me over the years.
    • by cooley ( 261024 ) on Sunday March 06, 2005 @01:29AM (#11857266) Homepage
      Thanks for posting "xwrits". I'll check it out. Back in the day, I had a program for Mac OS (system 7) which would (unless you "force-quit" it) hang the computer for five minutes every hour while an animation of a cigarette burning down appeared on the screen.

      It was called "cigarette break" or something similar. Whether you smoke or not, it was a great time to get up and move around while the computer had a smokey-treat.
  • Practical tips (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cgenman ( 325138 ) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @08:44PM (#11855913) Homepage
    It sounds like you have a pseudo permacrunch schedule. I'd look into the things that people do to deal with harsh crunch times. Such as...

    Use any excuse to get up and walk around. Walk around the office to talk to people F2F instead of IMing them. Walk to the bathroom. Walk up any stairs that may be around. Any excuse to move is a good one. Offer to help new people move their desks, etc.

    If practical, bike to work. If necessary, park a few blocks away and bike in. I can't emphasize physical activity enough.

    Assume that during those 4 days, you do nothing but work. Get enough sleep, take the time to cook all of your meals, and work. That's all you have time to do, really, before you have to start eating fast food and being sleep deprived. Any movies will have to wait for the weekend.

    On your days off, exercise a lot. Devote one of your days to Dance Dance Revolution, Rock Climbing, Frisbee golf, swimming with your kids, or whatever, but you have to require yourself to spend the day being active, preferably outside, preferably with the people you care about.

    Get sunlight. This can be the hardest thing if you work in the middle of an office building, come in before the sun comes up and leave after it goes down, but adequate lighting has a tremendous influence over mood. Add more lights to your desk and work area, and take your lunches outside under the sun. Open all of your curtains at work and at home.

    Take up different projects or responsibilities at work. If you work on the install routine for banking software, help the office setup an intramural softball league. If you are engineering a new print head for a new type of hybrid lazer / inkjet printer, help the marketing people write promo material. This will help stave off burnout, and let you go through the necessary periods of dicking off without guilt. Studies have shown that a workforce produces the most in total if it is offtask "wasting time" for roughly 10% of their worktime. If you're working 12 hours a day, that's about an hour and fifteen minutes. And because you're working extra long, you will need extra time off of your primary task.

    Move closer to work. If you can't do that, talk to your boss about telecommuting 2 days of the week. Invest some time getting to know the roadways between your home and work really well, and risk a few speeding tickets. I managed to shave 2-hours off of a 4-hour commute just by learning which highways and roadways were abandoned when, and which stretches the cops wouldn't bat an eye about speeding until you were over 150. I also avoided 6 dollars in tolls.

    Find things to do in the car. Create a life diary on tape for future generations. Get lots of audio books from your local library. Carpool with interesting people. Learn to speak a foriegn language. The more intellectually engaged you can be in the car, the less the footprint of such a long commute will be.

    Good luck!
  • by Linuxathome ( 242573 ) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @08:46PM (#11855920) Homepage Journal
    You at least have at least 3 non-work days. Although it's probably better for you to exercise every other day, my med school teacher said that exercising three days straight is better than no exercise during the week at all. So find the discipline to do that.

    Secondly, find out how to commute smarter. Those 3 hours involve only you behind the wheel, then it's going to take a toll on you -- mentally and physically. Be creative on how to commute. For example, in the DC metro area, there's a growing phenomenon called slug lines [], which are "unofficial meeting places where commuters catch free rides with drivers who need additonal riders to use high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes. []" If you don't have to drive, you can at least use that time for personal enrichment, like reading the paper, book, or listening to music or audiobooks, or you can do some work if you have a laptop, etc. That's 3 hours that you can have to yourself. If you buy an Archos AV340 [] and have a ReplayTV (or a networked TiVo) at home, you can even catch up on your favorite shows during the commute -- it makes the workday more bearable.
    • Slug lines are nothing dad used to use them going to the Pentagon over fifteen years ago.

      But it's reason enough to keep me *out* of the DC Metro area, even if it means less money (although the traffic where I live now sucks, too....but it's certainly not as bad as the Springfield Interchange).
  • Simple solution (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Jorkapp ( 684095 )
    May not be your cup of tea, but...

    Quit your job and join the military. Plenty of fitness, decent pay, they usually pay for a whole lot of crap you normally would (housing, education, some meals, etc).

    Not only that, you could find a liking for something you didn't consider during your elementary/high school years. I found a liking for aviation when I was planned for a CS career. Now I'm looking forward to many great years of flying.
    • Quit your job and join the military. Plenty of fitness, decent pay, they usually pay for a whole lot of crap you normally would (housing, education, some meals, etc).

      Man, he's trying to get AWAY from working 15 hour days. After 4 years of intermittently dragging 40lbs of ammo and/or radios (or sitting in a truck listening to radio static) 12-18 hours a day, sometimes for weeks straight, I was damn near used up. If a regular desk job is killing him, a thankless military term might just finish the job.

  • Quit (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Darth_Burrito ( 227272 ) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @09:12PM (#11856082)
    I used to work at a death march job. 60 hour work weeks. Lousy environment. Lots of stress. No appreciation. I was miserable and my health was probably not what it could have been. Within a few months of quiting, I felt great. Apparently I also looked a lot better because everyone I ran into kept asking questions like... Have you lost weight? You been going to the gym? Of course I hadn't been anywhere near a gym and I weighed the same as the day I quit, but leaving that horrible place made a huge difference that was visible to everyone around me.

    If you're unhappy or unhealthy, and if you can't make it so you are happy and healthy (by juggling schedules or whatever), then quit. Life's too short.
  • I get 2 days off, but the workday plus travel is 11-odd hours. I try to goto the gym daily, but the first day off is my 24-hour sleep which really repairs me for the next day.. so I can say I get one day off.

    Mentally, read everything thats non-tech if youre in the tech business. Since youre working mentally, at the end of the day youre only tired mentally and can still run on a treadmill or swim... make that a priority. At the minimum goto the gym one day a week, and spend 2-hours exercising... even that m
  • by fmaxwell ( 249001 ) * on Saturday March 05, 2005 @09:18PM (#11856115) Homepage Journal
    I just got a new job where I just sit in one place all day and work for 12 hours at a stretch. This goes on for 4 days a week and I get 3 days off. The journey to and from my office takes up about 3 hours of my day.

    You don't have to sit for 12 hours at a stretch. You work for four and then go and walk for twenty minutes. That's an hour of exercise per day. If your employer won't allow it, talk to HR and make it clear that your health is being threatened by the current working conditions. If they fire you, get a good attorney and then take a couple years off on the money that you win.

  • Go to the gym (Score:4, Informative)

    by Loualbano2 ( 98133 ) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @09:27PM (#11856161)
    During the 3 days you have off. Or only go 2, or even 1 time a week. You will be surprised what kind of difference this will make in your general constituion over time. You will notice things like better mood, better digestion, better sleep and more strength and endurance.

    Now, before you give the standard nerd excuses like "I'm not a gym guy" or "I don't want to get all big like those guys" let me tell you that there are a lot of other things you can do there besides lifting weights. There are tons of classes, swimming, sometimes there's a heavy bag to hit, etc. I do lift, personally and recommend lifting over those other things, but that's my preference. As long as you exert some energy and leave there at least a little beat, you are doing a good thing.


  • Why can't you move closer? I can't imagine you have any commitments at home for the 6 hours you're there, other than sleep. At the least you could rent a place to sleep near work. If you're putting yourself through all this you must be making good money. Spend some of it.
  • Have you seen the project "Workrave" []. It encourages you to take a break, and gives you exercises so that you don't get too stiff.
  • take a walk

    Up some flights of stairs if you can find them.

    This has helped for me on some of the past few weeks.

    But seriously, this much time on your ass is going to have some serious affects on your health. If you can't get a solution, you probably really should consider some alternatives. But it's not for us to tell you go somewhere else someplace else for work.

    But my point would be to run some plan for hourly exercise, however modest, just to get moving around a bit. I would also consider checking

  • by QuietRiot ( 16908 ) <cyrus AT 80d DOT org> on Saturday March 05, 2005 @10:44PM (#11856566) Homepage Journal
    Prepare lunch for the next day before you go to sleep. Put in in the fridge.

    Jog for 5 minues at soon as you get up and before your shower. Even if it's just around the block. Wake. Throw on shorts (or sweats if it's cold), some old socks (why dirty a new pair?), and a sweater. Go outside and run around the block or down to the corner and back. Then shower and have a good healthy (it can be quick!) breakfast. Bring the CD-R you prepared the night before with an automatic script full of the latest podcasts, TTS news, or random selection from your audio collection - hop in the car and drive. Pick up a friend, coworker, or slug on the way if you can.

    Go for a jog around the building when you get to work (after your drive) and before you leave. It can be quick. They'll laugh but you're not the one with the weak legs for weekend activities!

    Make good use of your lunch break. Have a sandwich while climbing the stairs to the top of your building.

    Promise yourself 20 crunches and 50 pushups before the day is over (how long does it take to do 10 pushups and don't tell me you can't take 5 short breaks over 12 hours...). Set a timer.

    Find some pipes in the utility closet and do 5 pullups a day for 2 months. Each month after add 2 more. Do these on a piss break.

    Eat Fruit. No heavy lunches. Bring yogurt (if you're into that kind of thing - cold plain vanilla w/ sugar sprinkled on top - delish!) Eat nuts (yes - something _other_ than peanuts).

    Do at least an hour or two of non-staring_at_the_computer_screen work if you can help it. Plan. Use a notepad and pencil. Make calls. Write a letter to your congressman or old friend or mother or grandparent or serviceman [].

    10 jumping jacks every 71 minutes. Set a timer.

    Go see Jane or Mark on the other side of the building to say hi - find an excuse. Take a walk to the next building or volunteer to take things to the post box. Be back in a timely fashion.

    Keep a bottle of water nearby, fill it religiously and get yourself lots of piss breaks. WATER IS GOOD FOR YOU. PASS IT THROUGH. EXERCISE THOSE NEPHRONS []. Get a Brita (a BIG one) for your desk or buy those large 2 1/2 gallon jugs at the supermarket. (Spring over distilled - you lose the minerals with distilled). Water will keep you from feelingl like crap from sitting there all day, force you to get up, and keep you hydrated for all the running and stair-climing you're doing. Water is your body's oil. ESPECIALLY if you drink coffee - drink lots of water. Keep ahead of the diuretic effects. See if you can down a quart and a half of plain water three times a day (sure. go it all at once -- no pussy footin' around. Chug it!)

    Take your vitamins.

    Find some guys to play pickup basketball or ultimate.

    Ask your boss about taking an hour to go to the gym. Give him a guilt trip about your health. Or go at lunch after eating at your desk @ 11a and having an apple and nuts when you get back. You'll probably be more productive if you actually have a chance to get up and be active.

    Find a stretch regimen and commit to doing it twice a day.

    Park your car not at home but down the street next to a well-lit bike rack. Ride there, drive to work. Drive back, ride home.

    Have lots of sex on your 3 days off!
  • some people find standing at their desks to be preferable to sitting.
  • OK, your work days are pretty much spent at work. Use the other three days for your main exercise (generally 3-4 days of exercise per week is well adequate).

    It looks like a roundtrip to work, for you, is three hours, so that does give you time to take a short half-an-hour to three-quarter-hour jog/walk around the block (take the wife/kids along, if any) after you get back or before you go, depending on the hours.

    Do something at work, too, stand instead of sitting if possible (burns about 300-500 calories
  • Do you have to work 4 days in a row? I think it would be somewhat easier to receuperate if you worked (for example) 2 days, 1 off, then 2 more. Also, I find that having a consistent sleep schedule helps my body and mind function better than sleeping way in on days off. (I'm still really bad about this one, though)
  • Investment Banking (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nelsonal ( 549144 ) on Sunday March 06, 2005 @12:29AM (#11857045) Journal
    I work in finance where probably everyone in the industry knows full well that top bankers get paid in the 7 figures. This compensation is partly because there aren't many bankers who continue to maintain the lifestyle required to be a top performing banker for very many years. A similar case would be oil field workers (who work long hours with few prequisites other than the capacity to work very hard for a lot of hours in good oil years) but humans cannot work 40 years in these fields. The smart ones save enough to retire young or fund a different career, the dumb ones blow the cash on drugs, sex, and fun and while they have some really cool stories are completely burned out at around 40. If you are not saving enough in your current job to successfully transition into something else in 10-20 years leave now.
  • Really. If you are travelling in traffic to work it'll probably take the same time. You'll get fit, healthy and feel great.
  • by jgardn ( 539054 ) <> on Sunday March 06, 2005 @01:33AM (#11857284) Homepage Journal
    You work 12 hours and spend 3 hours on the commute. That's 15 hours. I assume you don't eat breakfast or dinner at work, but you may. But let's say you don't. That leaves 7 hours.

    Assume you need abouyt 6-8 hours of sleep a day. Boy, I'm surprised you lasted this long.

    You'd better sit down with your boss and have a heart-to-heart. This is going to kill you. You can't do this. Either you have to get a raise so you can move closer to work, or you have to cut back on the hours to a more reasonable 8. Humans aren't machines. We need far more care and uptake and downtime to remain in peak condition.

    Boeing did some interesting studies during WWII on maximizing productivity. Guess what they found? 8 hours a day for 5 days a week is the optimal number. That's why throughout the 50s and 60s the jobs were all 9-5. You get more done than 8/6 or 9/5, or what ever you are doing (12/4?) Even firefighters spend a great deal of time sitting around and relaxing and doing non-work things.

    Seriously dude. You need to take care of yourself. There's only one of you and if you screw up your body, you don't get a replacement. You die.
  • no seriously.. I have a similar problem. I have recenetly installed 'its time' on my computer. It basically is setup to make me take a 5 minute break every 45 minutes. This makes me get off my butt and take a break. It locks me out of my computer, which can be annoying sometimes. I have managed to deal with it, and everyone at my office knows about this.

    If that is to extreme for you, then you need to take the initiative to get off your butt and take breaks. Its your life not your bosses. Ask about te

  • I work between 10-12 hours a day about 6 days a week. That's an average week: crunch time will have me working 100-120 hours a week. I've done this for over 20 years and am now 43 years old. My weight is stable, I am not obese (though I don't need to gain any more weight and could probably stand to lose 10-15 pounds), and (this is the most important part), I love my work.

    This does not mean that I do not get exhausted at times. I'll take the odd two or even three day weekend if I need to recharge -- on my schedule. I can come in at 10 or 11 or later or whenever I like, for the most part (unless I have an important meeting scheduled) -- my hours are flexible, so if I happen to sleep in an extra hour or 90 minutes, it's no disaster. Yeah, there are the times when I work until 2-3 A.M., or even all night (about 3-4 times a year), and a regular 8 hour day after that.

    My commute is better than yours though: only 45 minutes one way.

    The thing is that I have control over when I work those hours and that makes all the difference in the word. 4x12 hours a week on the clock would probably be far worse.

    What do I do to relax? I take quick frequent breaks at the office, sometimes 5 minutes every 15 to 30. While I'll often be oblivious to the fact that the lunch and dinner hour have passed, I'll go and eat when I feel hungry, regardless of the time (it's rarely noon and 6:00 PM).

    Now, I'm not given that much work -- I take it on: trying my best to accomodate feature requests from those that use the software I produce (mostly test automation support tools these days) request (particularly when they are useful to a wider audience), even if they arrive, well, "informally".

    I'm an asshole if you get on my bad side, but will bend over backwards to help anyone who's willing to contribute at least half the work. I must be doing something right if the number of "Rene went above and beyond the call of duty to help me" emails my boss (and his) gets are any indication: it's starting to get embarassing. My "self-assessment" on annual reviews is usually far harsher than my boss's -- I don't give a shit if I "exceeded" goals: they could always have been "exceeded" more, and to rest on one's laurels is a death sentence for a software dev. Heck, I code in C# on a .NET platform precisely because I knew nothing about it a year ago. I hold my own. Being a C++ expert gets boring after a while, ya know?

    I'm not a "team player": I prefer to stay at work and code up a little utility that would help a bunch of people be more productive, rather than go on "morale events". If I died tomorrow, what would leave a better impact, if globally imperceptible, on the world?

    In short, I have no one to blame for my work ethic than myself.

    Perhaps that's the difference: I have control over the hours I work, and if I decided that I needed a 2-3 week break (I rarely take more than one week of vacation a year), no one would likely blink an eyelid. I suspect, however, if my hours were regimented, even if they amounted to 40-50 a week, I'd be miserable.

    So, I wonder, if part of your problem is misery regarding your working conditions, and a lack of control over them. I don't think anything can really help overcome that, except looking for a better job. I've been in shops like that and utterly miserable too (and not particularly productive).

    While I don't always like my job I love my work. Do you love yours?

  • IF you enjoy what you do, then alter your life to do it. Move closer to work. Eliminate the comute. Join a local gym. Find a buddy at work to take lunch and squeeze in a solid jog, rollerblade or bike ride.

    If you don't like what you do and are doing so for the money, unless it's 7 figures and you will be able to retire in a few years, then do it no longer and seek some ballance in your life.
  • by Ratbert42 ( 452340 ) on Sunday March 06, 2005 @09:22AM (#11858119)
    All are important. I try to drink a lot of water so I have to get up on a regular basis to pee. It helps your circulation. Plus the water is better for you than coffee.

    In my case, I try to take 1-2 breaks a day to play ping-pong in our break room. I'm sure you could find something similar like stairs, basketball, flogging the dolphin, whatever.

    I try to get outside for 15 minute breaks during the day. I'll take a code listing or an architectural diagram outside and work on it in the sun. Or go eat lunch outside. That 15-minute conversation you have with a buddy about ${local sports team}? Have it outside. A group of us used to take smoke breaks outside once in a while and none of us smoke.

    Of course, watch your diet. Stop eating anything that comes out of a snack machine or anything that they bring in like doughnuts, pastries, pizza, etc. Buy a bag of carrots, grapes, etc. for snacks.

    Sleeping is the hard part with your schedule but it's huge. Don't fall asleep reading or watching tv. That's supposed to reduce the restfulness of your sleep. Personally, I use half of an over-the-counter sleep aid pill from time to time when things are insane. It gives me about 4-6 solid hours of deeper sleep without the grogginess that a full tablet gives me. Not a great solution, but better than tossing and turning.

    And here's one that'll probably set some people off. Pray. Let God run your daily calendar and you'll have time for everything you need to do.
    • Pray. Let God run your daily calendar and you'll have time for everything you need to do.

      Studies have definitely shown that praying helps people who are genuinely faithful about it. It's probably placebo effect, but whatever works, works. Just don't go the Christian-Scientist [sic] route and count on God to fix it for you without the use of actual medicine, psychology, time management, etc.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I work for a company that has a standard 50-hour work week (not 40). Crunch time brings it closer to 70 hours a week. A few things have helped me tremendously.
    1. Get a half-hour of cardio a day. I bought a treadmill and walk/run every morning. I think of it like eating breakfast. You just do it.
    2. Don't eat out very much. Get into the habit of making your lunches and dinners. Find things that freeze well and make a bunch of it at a time to freeze in individual portions. The huge portions and high fat of fast f
  • I am in a very similar situation. I work 2-3 12-hour days a week (in a helpdesk environment, but the pay is quite allright) with a 3-hour journey. The rest of the week I follow university courses 3-4 6-hour days with a 5-hour journey. In the beginning I also suffered some health problems and I was sick on a regular basis, but now I seem to have found some kind of equilibrium.

    I try to use my commuting time as efficiently as possible. I always start my morning journey with a healthy home-prepared breakfast a
  • 12 hour days (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Bumbledum ( 740352 ) <> on Sunday March 06, 2005 @03:30PM (#11859889) Homepage
    There are books and videos available on how to exercise you isometric activites while sitting and driving. The probelem is the lack of aerobic activity. Assuming you can't bicycle to and from work the only other option is to try to add 30 mintues three or more times a week of bicycling, jump rope, brisk walking, jogging, swimming, etc. Perhaps a brisk walk on your lucnd break to and from a restaurant? Climbin up and down stairs in your building on breaks, etc? It's a tough one, but don't fool yourself into thinkg that any vitamins or health products will compensate for physical activity, good diet, and good sleep. Good luck. J. Tucker Neilson, MD, FACP
  • Your commute is 3 hours driving. Is there any way to get to & from work via public transportation?

    I know you don't wnat to sit on the bus or train w/ strange smelly people, but I've found that if you listen to music while mouthing the words, people will give you wide berth. And being able to play video games or read a book or something will make up for having to wait for the bus/train and having to walk to & from the station. At the very least, it must be less stressful than driving, right?

  • I wish my employer would allow us to work 10 hours a day 4 days a week, instead of the typical 8x5. That would allow me to relax better over the extended weekend and concentrated better during the extended work day. I think it's a win-win thing and I'm surprised nobody thought about this in this cost-cutting climate. Of course they want me to work 10 hours a day 7 days a week anyway, but I have a 1 year old kid, so I tell them to fuck off. They seem to understand.

"The eleventh commandment was `Thou Shalt Compute' or `Thou Shalt Not Compute' -- I forget which." -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982