When you write, your brain buzzes with activity. Neurons fire, thoughts fly around and collide, inspiration pops up, memories reawaken. Writing is strenuous mental work. No wonder it’s so easy for professional writers to forget that while your brain is so busy, your body is just parked in a chair, barely moving at all.
When you sit for long periods of time, your metabolism slows down. The more time you spend with your butt planted in a chair, the more likely it is you will gain weight – and that butt, in the chair, will start to spread. Putting on the pounds, alas, is one of the biggest (no pun intended) occupational hazards for writers.
Researchers have found that it’s not enough to do regular exercise during your non-sitting hours. You also have to break up the amount of uninterrupted time that you spend in a chair. You don’t have to get up and run a marathon. Even taking a few steps can make a difference. The idea is that by making any kind of movement, you are telling your metabolism, “Hey, wake up! Don’t go into hibernation now. I still need you.”
Here are things every content writer can add to the daily writing routine to avoid writers’ spread:
Take a Short Activity Break Every Hour
Set a timer to go off every hour. When you hear it, stand up. Simply getting up out of your chair is half the battle. Standing uses a lot more muscles – and burns more calories – then sitting. Next, move a little. Use the big muscles in your back and in your legs. These are the precisely the muscles you don’t use while you sit and these are the muscles that can burn those pesky calories. Walk around the room, do a few squats or dance like it’s 1999. While you’re up, you might as well rest your eyes, too, by looking off into the distance. Now that you’ve got your metabolism revved up, you can sit down again for another writing session. Just don’t forget to reset the timer, so you can do it all again in an hour.
Play with Your Hair
Remember your parents, teachers, and other pesky adults telling you to stop fidgeting? Well, now you get the last laugh because it turns out that fidgeting is good for you. Fidgeting takes energy, and that burns calories. So go ahead and twirl your hair, wriggle in your seat, jiggle your leg, and tap your toes.
I’m not advising you to grab a sign and join your local protest march – though that would burn calories, too. Instead, consider the radical step of doing away with your chair altogether. Get a tall desk and write standing up. Or, sit on an exercise ball instead of a chair. Your muscles will be constantly working to keep you in balance.
Writers of the world unite (in adding more activity to the hours you sit) – you have nothing to lose but your spread.
Marjorie R is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.