Recently the news has been reported that spending long periods sitting is as dangerous to our health as smoking. I assumed it was because being sedentary contributed to our collective asses getting bigger, but even regular exercise is apparently not enough to compensate. I hadn’t heard any explanation of this until today, when I stumbled upon this post by Linda Stone about computer apnea.
Apparently we tend to hold our breath or breath shallowly when we read email and do other computer related tasks. This is a bad thing. It causes a complicated cascade of physiological responses that lead to the fight or flight response. Unfortunately, (or maybe fortunately–I’d rather not be facing a grizzly, thank you) we ‘re sitting at our computers. As Stone says, our bodies are all dressed up with no place to go. This leads to all sorts of health problems like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, elevated blood sugar levels, increased hunger signals, etc.
We think of breathing as automatic, but apparently there’s something about sitting in front of a computer that interrupts our natural rhythms. This is bad news for writers, and a lot of other workers in western style economies.
We can’t change our entire work culture, but we can breathe. Deeply. And sit up straight so our lungs can expand. And get off our asses once an hour so the blood gets moving. (I know one writer uses a 48/12 pattern. Forty eight minutes of writing, twelve minutes of out-of-chair time. His mind has adapted to it, so when he sits down at the computer again, he steps right back into the story.)
Two years ago (with my husband’s help) I created a workstation combined with a low speed treadmill. I used it faithfully for about a year, and then, gradually, my recliner became my preferred work location. (Bad writer. No biscuit.) It looks like I need to get off my ass. Again.