I recently joined the gym. Not only am I going three days a week but on the days in between I’m working out as well. Now some might say, Jo you’re not very big, why do you need to loose weight? I didn’t join to loose weight, I joined to save my life or at the very least prolong it.
A couple years ago I left a job where I was on my feet for 12 hour shifts to write full time. This means I went from lots of activity to nearly none. I was spending 12-16 hours a day sitting at the computer. While my career soared, my body crashed. I’d get up from the computer and I swear to you, I walked like I was eighty years old. Some days my energy levels would hit rock bottom, my creativity became non-existent and naps became my friends.
So, I started doing some research and what I found was alarming, like totally fricken scary!
According to a study of inactivity in 2010 led by Alpa Patel of the American Cancer Society in Atlanta, those who sat for more than six hours a day, compared to those who sat three hours or less, had a 34% higher mortality rate for women and 17% for men.
In another study, at the University of Queensland in Australia analyzed data on the television viewing habits of 8,800 Australians. They calculated that each hour of television correlated with 22 minutes off the average life expectancy of an adult older than 25. In other words, people who watch six hours of television a day face the prospect of dying, on average, about five years younger than those who don’t watch any.
Unfortunately, joining a gym and working out three times a week, or even every day, isn’t enough. The study goes on to say that sitting for hours at a time is a health risk no matter what you do with the rest of the day! Meaning, a high-intensity exercise once a day may not cancel out the effect of sitting for hours on end. Patel’s study found that people who spent hours sitting had a higher mortality rate even if they worked out for 45 to 60 minutes a day.
I won’t go into all the health risks of sitting for long hours, I think I’ve freaked you out enough for one morning. But if you’d like to be in the know, you can check out the risk factors HERE
Now, I don’t tell you all this to scare you (okay maybe a little) but to educate & motivate you!
So what can you do to make your writing day not only a productive one, but a healthy one? First, it is important to note that exercise still has great benefits: An hour’s workout cannot undo hours of sitting, but it is still good for your health.
What you need is short activity breaks. According to one study, interrupting sitting time with short bouts of light- or moderate-intensity walking, reduced blood sugar and insulin spikes. Which is a good thing. So get up and get moving. Here are a few suggestions for your work day.
1. Pace: Can’t figure out where your story is going next? Don’t sit at the computer staring at the screen. Get up and pace while your working out that plot hole. You can burn 16 calories just by pacing. It’s also a good way to clear your mind and get those creative juices flowing again.
2. Set your timer: We all have household chores that have to be done on a daily basis. I set the timer on my phone and sprint for 30 minutes. I then reset the timer and clean for 30 minutes. While I’m dusting, vacuuming or doing dishes, I’m thinking about what I will write during my next 3o minutes. Write, Clean, Repeat. Before you know it you’ve got some wicked wordage and a clean house as a bonus.
3. Get some fresh air: How many of you want a nap after having lunch? *raises hand* Well, instead of that nap or jumping right back into writing, go out and grab the mail, the paper, smell the flowers, something. Even if only for 10 minutes. It will wake you up and you’ll be recharged and ready to dig back into your story.
4. Be Creative: C’mon I know you can do it. You’re a writer! Do you also like to doodle? Play with your pet? Dance? Each short break doesn’t have to be set in stone, just make sure you do it. At least once an hour, get up, stretch, dance, sing, whatever inspire you. I promise, it will also help stimulate your mind.
SJD Peterson, better known as Jo, hails from Michigan. Not the best place to live for someone who hates the cold and snow. When not reading or writing, Jo can be found close to the heater checking out NHL stats and watching the Red Wings kick a little butt. Can’t cook, misses the clothes hamper nine out of ten tries, but is handy with power tools.
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