Stand Up to be More Successful … and to Live Longer
Your computer chair may be killing you.
Well, maybe not the chair itself. But sitting in it can be harmful to your health.
And, if there’s one thing all writers do a lot of, it’s sit. Too much, in fact.
Until recently, I thought I was protecting myself with regular exercise, but I was wrong. It seems that long periods of sitting – the type we writers do without much thinking – increases our risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, a variety of cancers … and early death.
This is true even if you exercise every day.
This is the conclusion of several medical studies, including some conducted by Steven Blair, a professor of public health at the University of South Carolina. Blair has spent 40 years investigating physical activity and health.
His studies concentrated on healthy people who exercise regularly. Those healthy people who sit the most during the rest of the day have larger waists and worse profiles of blood pressure and blood sugar than those who sit less.
Among people who sit for more than three hours each day, those who exercise are as thick around the middle as those who don’t. Sitting a lot appears to offset many of the benefits of jogging or other cardio exercises.
“If you’re sitting,” Blair says, “your muscles are not contracting. The big muscles, like in your legs and back, are sitting there pretty quietly. We’re finding that people who sit more have less desirable levels of cholesterol, blood sugar, triglycerides and even waist size.”
It doesn’t take much activity to reverse the process,
if done at the right time …
There’s hope for us sitting types. You don’t have to change your pattern of activity very much to get a positive effect. Dr. Toni Yancey – professor in the health services at University of California, Los Angeles – recommends taking routine breaks during a full day of sitting.
All you need, according to Yancey – are a few minutes of movement every hour.
Her findings are backed up by an Australian study. They found that mini-breaks, just one minute long throughout the day, can make a difference.
You can simply stand up, dance about, wiggle around, take a few steps back and forth, or march in place. These simple movements help lower blood sugar, triglycerides, cholesterol and waist size.
Frequent breaks aren’t just good for your heart, blood pressure, and such. Your eyes also need frequent breaks from staring at the computer monitor.
Based on these studies, here’s what I suggest. (Don’t choose one or two of these activities. Do them all.) …
- Set a timer on your computer to alert you every 33 minutes. (This is Eugene Schwartz’s timing, which he felt – and many top copywriters agree – increases productivity. More on this in a future issue of The Golden Thread.)
- When the timer goes off, save your work, regardless of where you are. Even if you’re really close to being done. Or really close to making a major breakthrough.
- Stand up. Walk to another room of your house.
- Turn on some music.
- Dance, move, jiggle. Do this for two minutes.
- Drink a glass of water.
- Live longer and healthier.
Other strategies that work …
These Australian strategies really are all you need to reduce the dangers of prolonged sitting. However, you can be more gung-ho …
- Anytime you’re going to be on a phone call for more than 15 seconds, stand while talking.
- Stand while you’re eating your lunch.
If you own a treadmill, position your work surface above it with the monitor and keyboard on a stand. (There are specialized treadmill-ready vertical desks, but you can probably improvise successfully.) Work while walking at around ½ to 2 miles per hour.
You might not like to write in that position, but you can do research, organize notes, answer emails, that sort of thing. When it comes time to write, stay upright and turn off the treadmill.
- Adapt a stationary bike in a similar manner.
One last word from Dr. Yancey …
“If there’s a fountain of youth, it is probably physical activity. So the problem isn’t whether it’s a good idea. The problem is how to get people to do more of it.”
So, being a writer has a benefit few other careers provide. You can adopt these strategies as part of your daily routine. And live longer and healthier.
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