Weaning coders off Coke, pizza a tall task

Altiris Inc. in Australia has introduced an innovative staff program to try and wean the company’s software developers off Coke and pizza.

The goal is to break unhealthy bad habits adopted by developers who spend long hours coding, playing computer games and sitting in front of a computer screen all day.

Dubbed Kirribilli to Kakadu, the program encourages developers to make the shift to good living by engaging in exercise and healthy eating. Participants accumulate virtual kilometers each time they engage in a positive activity. The biggest point winner is quitting smoking and the winner receives a trip for two to a Kakadu safari.

Altiris has 120 developers in the Asia Pacific region with 70 based in Sydney. To date, 44 software developers have signed up for the ‘wellness program’ which ends on November 30.

An Altiris spokeswoman said the company hasn’t been able to completely wean developers off pizzas. “But at least they are now supplementing pizza with salads, sandwiches and fresh fruit,” she said.

The spokeswoman said some of the daily goals for developers include no deep-fried foods, drinking 600 millilitres of water a day, reducing video games to 1.5 hours a day and averaging seven hours of sleep each night.

One of the more popular activities has been the Zen stress-busting sessions, which aren’t too strenuous.

The spokeswoman said the company also has a pool table on site, which could count as exercise as it means developers are taking a break from sitting in front of a computer, even if it’s only for a short time.

The winner of the bad habit-busting competition will be announced at the company’s Christmas party in December.

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