- Karen E. Osborne
Reading, Writing, and the Sitting Disease
Maybe you read about the sitting disease. Studies show that for every hour we sit after age 25, we lose 21.8 minutes of life expectancy. Compare that to smoking, for example, 11 minutes lost for each cigarette smoked, and one realizes how important it is to get up and move. (http://www.juststand.org/tabid/674/default.aspx)
This week a new study came out. It reports that we need to get up every thirty minutes!
What is a reader and writer to do? Yes, I read when I’m on the treadmill. I’m happiest reading, however, curled up on the couch with a cup of tea. I write on the treadmill as well, in my head. But mostly I write sitting in front of my computer.
I purchased a standing desk, but evidently, standing is not the same as moving and standing too much is not good for you either.
Here are five ways you can read, write AND extend your life.
Set your alarm for every thirty minutes. My Fitbit does this every 50 minutes. When the alarm goes off or your Fitbit buzzes, get up. Keep writing the scene in your head as you walk around your office, home, wherever you are. Think about the book you're reading. What are some of the deeper themes, or what do you think will happen next? Savor the story. The research doesn't say how long you need to move. I break it up, sometimes for just a few minutes and other times for at least ten. When I return to my computer, I often find I have a fresh idea or have solved a problem. When I return to the book I have new insights.
You can do this at work as well.
On the weekend, get up and put a load in the washing machine, or check the mail, or water the plants.
Walk and read. If you’re using an e-reader this is easy. Hold it at eye level so you are not straining your neck looking down. It’s a little more difficult with a thick hard cover but worth a try. Of course, don’t do this outside in pedestrian or car traffic!
Stand up every time the phone rings or you make a call. The minute the phone rings, stand up, pace, walk around. You’ll get in lots of steps, think more creatively, and re-energize.
Take a lunch break. For years, I ate at my desk, wolfing down whatever was handy. Now, I make sure I stop for lunch. Walk to wherever lunch is even if it’s in a nearby room or down the hall. Chew slowly. Smell the food. Enjoy. Walk for at least ten minutes after the meal, preferably outside if that’s possible.
If you’re a weekend writer, lunch breaks still matter.
Evening writer – be sure to eat a light dinner, heavy on vegetables and lean protein.
If you’re a lunchtime reader at work, be sure to get up after 30 to 50 minutes and walk for at least 10.
Workout. Whatever you’re able to fit in at least three times a week for a minimum of thirty minutes. Energy helps us write, solve problems, approach our writing, reading, work and life with a new perspective.
Pick something easy to get to and/or do. Ride your bike to work. Keep a jump rope nearby and jump. Walk for thirty minutes. Jog.
Buddies are helpful. Even when I don’t feel like working out my husband pushes me. When his motivation is low, I encourage him.
Commit to yourself. Sitting is bad for us. Stand up. Move. Your mind, body and creativity will thank you.