… and what you can do about it.
Do you ever stop and think about how long you sit at your desk each day?
If you’re on a word count mission, it’s sometimes easy to sit there for hours (albeit minus a few trips to the kettle and back). But, as writers and entrepreneurs, it can be detrimental to our health.
A sedentary lifestyle is linked to a range of diseases (coronary heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes), and it’s also a contributing factor to mental health problems, too (low self-esteem, depression, anxiety).
Government guidelines reckon we should be:
- active daily
- have at least 2.5 hours activity per week
- and minimise the amount of time spent being sedentary (sitting) for extended periods.
This is something we should all think about as writers who have to spend prolonged periods sitting down. But what can we do about it, without having to abandon our good writing habits altogether?
Visit Your Local Sports Hall / Gym / Swimming Pool
Even if you’re a proper gym-phobe, and you have to drag yourself there, please pay a visit to your local facilities. These days most sports halls / gyms offer a variety of classes that are included as part of the gym subscription. I have a monthly subscription to my local gym but I hardly ever go. Instead I go to step, spinning, fitball and pilates. There’s usually something to accommodate everyone. So if Zumba’s not your thing and you prefer something a little slower, try yoga or pilates (it’s great for fixing those stiff arms and legs and your bad posture).
Swimming pools usually offer an adult-only swim / ladies’ night if you prefer to stay away from lively children.
Buy a Pedometer
I bought a pedometer for £6.99 from Argo and it’s fab. I’ve been down the whole Fitbit route and quite frankly, I much prefer my pedometer. It sits in my pocket all day and my mission is to take 10,000 steps a day. Having worked for myself now for three years – which means, I technically don’t have to leave the house – I slowly began to feel more and more lethargic, my weight kept steadily increasing, my eating habits were terrible and I would experience bouts of depression.
But everything’s changed since my lovely little pedometer came along. Most weekdays I manage to reach my daily goal but weekends sometimes go to pot, (with the rest of the family being at home) so if I’m feeling extra competitive, I’ll try to do 12,000 steps each weekday so I can spread the other 10,000 between Saturday and Sunday. I have to do this because I know the slippery spiral is just round the corner if I don’t.
Add Some Activity into Your Daily Schedule
Schedule 30 minutes exercise into your day first thing in the morning / your lunchtime break / when you’ve finished writing for the day and you’ll see the benefits really quickly. Your productivity levels increase – yes, even though you’re taking time out, your output rate will increase. Walking/exercising is excellent for clearing your head and encouraging new ideas to pop up unexpectedly, too (so always take a pen and paper with you on your walks). And beware of being bitten by the exercise/walking bug, too. It doesn’t take long.
Prioritise Your Needs Before your Writing
Starting the day with some exercise is a great way to set you up for the day. Prioritise your needs over your writing because once you’re running at full, happy and healthy capacity, your writing will become so much easier, too.
Take Regular Breaks from the Screen
Regular breaks away from the glare of your PC is also important and if you can build these into your schedule after every 90 minutes or so, you’ll be less likely to suffer headaches and tired eyes.
Find a Walking Buddy
If you have a friend with dog, what better excuse than to buddy up with them? Alternatively, just see if you can encourage a friend to join you on your daily walks. Not only will you both have the opportunity for a regular catch-up, but you’ll also be triggering lots of happy hormones at the same time.
You Can Still Exercise in Winter
Just because it’s winter, doesn’t mean you can’t exercise. If the weather’s grim, you could always put on a exercise DVD and sweat in the comfort of your own living room!
There are so many benefits of being active each day:
- helps you maintain a healthy weight
- improves self-esteem and general wellbeing
- reduces symptoms of depression and anxiety
- reduces the risk of disease
- helps maintain ability to perform everyday tasks with ease
So take care of yourself while you write. It could open up a whole new world for you, generate lots of ideas, and improve your mind, body and spirit.