Writing is a sedentary occupation, and writers who are serious about their efforts to live by the pen often worry about the effects of sitting for many of their waking hours. It is often said that the only way to become a writer is to sit in your chair and move your fingers on the keyboard. Now we read that an essential ingredient of our career can kill us?
Millions of people have flooded the internet with articles warning readers that sitting can kill them. Most cite the results of long term studies concluding that spending long hours in a chair leads the way to serious medical problems.
As usual, it does not take long to uncover a host of articles saying the exact opposite, or touting ways to circumvent the possibly disastrous effects of sitting all day. Most of the ideas claiming to counteract too much sitting involve exercise—always a good idea for improved health. Then BAM! Another study, Sitting too long can kill you, even if you exercise, pops up to confuse the issue. It seems to have valid research behind it. Now what?
After reading a few articles, looking at the sources, and then skimming even more, I made my own plan to combat the sitting-too-long malady. My distillation of the articles I considered reasonably well-grounded gave me two takes on the idea of spending too much time sitting. One is the over all number of hours per day you are in a chair, but equally important was the duration of each period of sitting. What doesn’t work is spending all week sitting and going to the gym to work up a sweat for three hours on Saturday morning. What does work is sitting for 20-30 minutes at a time, broken up with 5-10 minutes of walking.
That’s a great plan, but not always practical. The muse has gifted you the perfect scene and your fingers are flying on the keyboard…not the time to take a break to exercise. Or you’re working on a tight deadline and can’t lose your train of thought for an exercise break. I’ve been there and done that. Before you know it, hours have gone by and you haven’t moved anything but your fingers.
And then I got a perfect birthday gift—a sit-stand desk! I absolutely love it and I can stand often without taking more than a few seconds with my fingers off the keyboard. It changes height easily, accommodates my monster monitor and two computers, and lets me change positions as often as I like.
Do you have any midday exercise tips that work for you? Please share with your fellow writers.
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