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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Is Writing Deadly?

I spend a lot of time sitting.  And according to a new study, this can be deadly!

That’s right.  A recently study by the American Cancer Association shows sitting too much will shave years off your life.  Women who sit more the 6 hours a day are 40% more likely to die sooner than women who sit only 3 hours a day (for men, the same study shows excessive sitters die 20% sooner).

Just a bit alarming.   Don’t you think?

Even putting my day job aside, what about all the time I spend writing.  Yikes!  How does one write (or blog) without sitting behind a computer?  It’s virtually impossible.

Am I taking years off my life at this very moment as I sit behind this screen, exercising only my fingers and my brain?  Ok, I’m starting to panic.  But what are my options, anyway?

1.  Quit writing.  I could find a new hobby.  I could take up golf or try roller skating.  Or maybe I should put the treadmill in the middle of our family room and start watching TV.  Better yet, I could start cleaning in the evenings.  My husband would be thrilled (since he doesn’t share my view that a clean house is overrated).  But I just might be miserable.  I’m terrible at golf, I haven’t roller skated since 7th grade, and I really hate TV.  Need I say anything about cleaning?

2.  Exercise more.  Given all the time I spend sitting, I just need to kick the cardio up a notch.  I could start running more.  I could train for another half-marathon.  I could try P90X again, even though the first time I wanted to die (not to mention eat everything in sight).  Or maybe I should be one of those people who parks her car in the far corner of the lot.  (I can just hear my kids complaining about the extra walking, but maybe I need to start working on them early!)

3.  Stand more.  I could get rid of my chair and my desk.  I could get one of those standing work stations – you know, the kind that is ergonomically correct so that I’m not hunched over when I type.  I could even get a stool (just for resting periods), and I could time myself to make sure I don’t sit more than 3 hours a day.  My mother happens to be pretty good at standing.  I can’t tell you how many times we’ve said, “Sit down, Mom!” and she replies,

“I’d rather stand!”

 Maybe she is on to something.

4.  Ignore the research.  But then again, aren’t you sick and tired of these studies?  It’s like we have no future – everything has been predetermined.  If you eat chips, you’re going to die of heart disease.  If you smoke, you’re going to die of lung cancer.  If you ride a motorcycle, you’re going to get killed in an accident.  Pretty soon, you’re going to tell me that my life span is genetic, and there’s nothing I can do about it!  Am I just another statistic?  And if God is in control, does my sitting (or lack of sitting) really make a difference anyway?

Maybe not.  But I don’t think I’m going to ignore the research either.  No, I’m not going to stop writing.  I’m not going jump back on P90X or get rid of my desk chair. 

But I think I’m going to try to sit less.  Want to join me?


Olivia Newport said...

I have a set-up where I can stand or sit as need be. Long-term issues in my feet mean standing all the time as I work is not possible, but I do opt to stand for shorter periods of time. What I can do is take walking breaks. I just go out and walk around the block and couple of times. My body seems to need the movement, and it's amazing how many creative dilemmas I solve when my body is in motion. said...

Susan - I have found that if I start working on a writing piece, and then stop to go exercise (I jog on a treadmill with the headphones up high!) I usually get all these great ideas flowing into my brain. There is something about the combo of thinking and physically getting the blood flowing that converge together in creativity. At least for me. Go for it!

Megan Willome said...

Love the "quit writing" suggestion! As a fellow writer, I do sit a lot, but I work on my back porch, and my washer and dryer are in the garage. I get up from writing often to do laundry. There's the washing, the drying, the folding. My house is a wreck, but my laundry is always up to date. :)

David Rupert said...

This is just good, smart and engaging. Of course, we can't give up writing (once you have "it" in you), but we do live existences entirely too much on our fannies.

I have to walk, work out and be active with my 'other' time. I don't sit in front of a TV except for a very rare occassion.

Susan DiMickele said...

I love that Megan's laundry is always done -- I think I am going to have her over to my house!

Amy Sullivan said...

Personally, I think you are discounting rollerskating too quickly...ha!

Michael Dodaro said...

I'm a writer too, both in my day job and in mind bending, late-into-the-night binges, writing or reading. It is true that spending so much time in the mind is not good for the body. To get moving, I lift weights, sing, or go outside and run up the hill that curves around our cul-de-sac and up into the cedars. But, I have a friend who does continuing legal education. He reads a great deal and is very articulate, but he types so slowly that he would exasperate a tortoise. So, he has started recording some of his material for online distribution. I mentioned that he does continuing legal education, but he's not an attorney. He's a comedian. Here's a sample of his thinking--communication errors that turn the jury against you--recorded over dinner in an Indian restaurant on Aurora Avenue North in Seattle. Getting your ideas in circulation can be done without sitting for hours in front of a computer.