Writers, guess what? A new study suggests that the sedentary work life leads to obesity. Yup. A new study reports that 80 percent of today’s jobs require little or no physical activity, up from 50 percent in 1960. Because we sit at work, we are not burning 120-140 calories a day that people who have an active job burn through physical movement. And that is making us fat.
But that’s not all. In an earlier blog post, I wrote about the research that suggests that prolonged sitting leads to gaining weight and having heart disease. I was startled to learn that even regular exercisers who spend oodles of time sitting are at risk. That’s me. On most days, I walk, bike, lift weights, or do yoga. But, like most professional writers, I also spend a huge amount of time sitting. And guess what? Despite my commitment to healthy eating and daily exercises, I have gained weight over the last year. Yikes.
We need a new routine! Writers, we need to change our habits if we are going to live a long time and write many books! While we need to put our butt in the chair to write our books, we also need to get out of those chairs and move around more often. Tim Armstrong, from the World Health Organization, suggests that daily exercisers might get more benefit from their workouts if they spread them throughout the day. In the past month, I’ve switched up my routine. I have lost a few pounds already. And a big bonus: I have more energy to write. Here are my suggestions for staying healthy while writing:
1. Exercise daily. After reading that sitting impacts the health of regular exercisers and couch potatoes alike, it might be tempting to give up your daily walk, run, or swim. Don’t. Your daily exercise forms your fitness foundation. Plus, daily exercise gives you an energy boost that will support you throughout the day. I aim for 5-6 thirty-minute sessions throughout the week. I keep track of my exercises by putting stickers on my calendar (see photo above) and tracking my progress at Daily Mile.
2. Do chores. I used to sit at my desk for hours, getting up only to use the restroom and visit the kitchen. No more! I’ve moved my weekend chores to my work week. Once an hour I get out of my chair and move laundry, change sheets, or sweep the floor. I live in a two story house, so this often means climbing up and down stairs. I return to my desk focused and energized. If you do not work at home, get up every hour and walk around the office or up and down the stairs.
3. Stand up! I try to stand whenever I have a chance. Because half my time is spent coaching on the phone, I try to stand during coaching sessions. I’m considering buying a standing desk so that I can read, write, and edit on my feet.
4. Pace. When I was a teenager, my parents used to tell me to “stand still!” I could not just sit and have a conversation. I also needed to wiggle, dance, and pace while talking. My children do the same thing. I’ve started to revisit this habit now that I am trying to move more. When I need to think about how to express a difficult concept, I pace around the house. I also pace during phone calls and conversations with my family.
5. Stretch! Hunching over a book or laptop does all sorts of nasty things to backs, shoulders, and necks. A few times a day, I get up and stretch. I love massaging my shoulders on my foam roller or doing a few yoga poses in the hallway.
6. Get a new chair! A number of my writing friends swear by their balance ball chairs. Some of them sit on a regular old balance ball while they are at the desk. The balance ball requires sitters to use core muscles to maintain a healthy posture. I sit on my balance ball when I watch television at night. That way, I am not just sitting there—I’m doing something!
Now it’s your turn! Writers, how about you? What do you do to stay fit while writing? Share your ideas in the comment section below. We need them!