Is Your Chair Killing You?

fall_chairWriting 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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About dhallaj

Co-Founder of the Short & Helpful Online Writer Workshops and author of four novels, Dixiane holds a PhD in Literacy and Adult Learning from George Mason University. She lives in rural Northern Virginia with her husband of 55 years and her cat named Dog.
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2 Responses to Is Your Chair Killing You?

  1. lenoragood says:

    I am jealous. Jealous. JEALOUS, I say!!! And so thrilled you have such a marvelous thing. I’ve looked at them, but until I get my move paid off….. 😉

    In the meantime, I do try to get up every hour or so and walk around a tad.

    By the way, quilting is just as bad, though there is a ‘built in’ method of sitting and standing… you have to iron those darned seams! Often. So it’s sit and sew, stand and iron, repeat. My ironing board is a long way from my sewing machine, so it’s sew a seam, walk a bit, stand a bit, walk some more, and sit to sew a seam. I just can’t seem to figure out how to put seams in my writing that require a physical ironing 😉

    Pleasant Journeys, Lenora Good Email: lenora.good@icloud.com Blog: https://oddsnbods.blogspot.com Book Reviews: http://lenoragood.blogspot.com Movie Reviews: http://rainydaysmovieoftheweek.blogspot.com Books: Madame Dorion: Her Journey to the Oregon Country http://sandhbooks.com/story/madame-dorion/ Blood on the Ground: Elegies for Waiilatpu, http://www.redbatbooks.com/bloodontheground.html “My fellow Americans, we are and always will be a nation of immigrants. We were strangers once, too.” –Barack Obama

    >

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    • dhallaj says:

      I’ve racked my brain to find a way to force you to iron the seams of your manuscript, but to no avail. My best suggestion is to use an hour glass. Failing the picturesque solution, set a timer on your phone (or use an old fashioned kitchen timer) to remind you when you’ve been sitting too long.

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