Programming's friendlier to algorithmic thinking (versus equation/identity and proof). The former's really easy for me, and while on paper (aptitude test scores) one might think the latter would be too, it's very, very not. I've only relatively late in life realized I need to reframe any non-trivial math I encounter in terms of algorithms to have any hope of understanding it. It's probably why I bounce off—understand well enough, just strongly dislike—programming languages that try to make code more look more like a math paper (more focus on equality/identity and proof-like structures).
And yeah algorithms are math, but lots of math's not really algorithms and when someone writes "think in math" that mostly means "think in proofs" to me. If they mean "think in algorithms" then that's close enough to programming—as I see it—already that it's a pretty fine distinction.