Sunday, May 6, 2012

FITNESS FOR SITTERS

Being a writer requires long hours of sitting in front of a computer. So do many other professions. Sitting for hours at a time is very taxing on the body. Repetitive stress injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome and tendonitis can be extremely painful, not to mention the negative affects of lack of exercise on overall health. But for people who sit for a large part of their day, it can be difficult to get moving. As the old adage goes, "Bodies in motion stay in motion. Bodies at rest stay at rest."

So what is a writer (or other sedentary couch potato) to do? How does one get up from the chair and move, especially if there are looming deadlines? How do we fit exercise into an already hectic schedule, especially if you are juggling a writing career with a full-time job? We all know that exercise has numerous health benefits, but who has the time?

 A recent article in the IDEA Fitness Journal summarized a study conducted by The Karolinska Institute in Stockholm conducted that was published in the Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine (2011: 53 [8]). The purpose of the study was to determine the result of work productivity on workers who were given time off (2.5 hours per week) to exercise. Actual productivity of these workers was similar to that of people who didn’t get time off to exercise, but the exercise group reported that they felt more productive and took fewer days off due to illness. The bottom line was that taking time off to exercise didn’t decrease productivity, and in some cases, increased it.

Could the same be true for writers? Would I write the same number of pages even if I used some of my limited time for exercise?

My personal experience has been that when I adhere to an exercise schedule and take breaks to exercise, I feel more mentally alert, more energetic, and more organized.  It’s hard to get started though. Sometimes it can feel like trying to move a mountain, (or at least my mountain-like butt).

A book I have found extremely helpful is 8 Minutes in the Morning by Jorge Cruise. He outlines a weight lifting program that addresses all the major muscle groups and can be accomplished in as little as 8 minutes a day. He cites evidence that when we exercise in the morning, we continue to burn calories all day. His book contains handy travel cards that you can slip into your wallet when you’re on the road. There is a diet plan and even inspirational motivators. 

But to be completely honest, I leave for work at six forty-five in the morning, and I write before that, so many days even that 8 minutes feels impossible. One solution I've incorporated is to take an adjustable weight to work and do two minutes of exercise at a time. I also have an adjustable set of weights next to my writing desk at home. This reminds me to get up every now and then and move my body. Even this small amount of exercise helps me stay toned and pain free. Just as writing a book requires focusing on one page at a time, even a couch potato like me can become fit if I just do a little bit of exercise every day.

2 comments:

  1. I used to work almost 18 hours in a day before computer. Till now I didn't get any problems but the future we can't assume. so I want to follow this workouts. where can I get this book?

    Fitness Guide

    ReplyDelete
  2. I found it at the bookstore, but you could probably get it online. If you ask your local bookstore to order it for you, that would work, too. Good luck!

    ReplyDelete