The Seated Writer

In this day and age, we hear a lot about exercise.  It’s considered important for overall health.  Get up and get out, we are told.  Walk, jog, bicycle, whatever, but get some exercise.  I suspect that thousands of years ago when the human body first took the form we know today, it developed in a species that still had to struggle everyday just to get enough food to eat.  Early man couldn’t go to the supermarket to get food.  He/she may have had to climb trees to get fruit, or chased down prey to get meat.  In any event, the human body developed with a requirement for some sort of regular exercise every day.

Enter the modern man.  We ride smog-producing conveyances instead of walking.  We sit at a desk or in meetings for hours every day.  We have even gone so far as to develop the remote control for our television viewing so as to allow us to remain seated instead of having to get up and change the channel.  Are we really that lazy?

Writing must be among the most sedentary of professions.  Put butt in chair and write, we are told.  We sit quietly in a chair for long hours, tapping away at a computer keyboard or scratching ink or pencil on a piece of paper.  I’ve heard (I’m not giving away any names here) of writers who claim (brag, even) that they write 24/7.  This implies they actually and literally write twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.   Personally, I’m skeptical.  They say they do that because they love writing, though I doubt they’re in a chair all that time.  I love to write, but not to that extent.  But the existence of these writers does bring up an important point.  I’m certainly not skeptical that there are writers who do spend a lot of time in the chair writing.  But writing to this extent isn’t good.

Sitting that long is bad, not only for your butt, but your overall health.  Sure, the writing has to be done, and the bills have to be paid, but is it worth all that time spent hacking away if you are only going to ruin your health because of it?  Get out of the chair.  Write in short spurts of a couple of hours at a time at the most.  Walking, jogging, swimming, gardening—these are all considered good exercise.  Find out what’s best for you and keep at it.

Exercise is supposed to increase blood flow to the brain, and that’s the organ most seriously involved in writing.  I walk a lot.  I also lift weights, though I do that more to keep the muscles and joints in my upper body from becoming rigid or frozen rather than build muscle mass.  But there’s more to walking than blood flow.  I’ve found a lot of ideas during my walks.  I’ve solved problems with some of my writings.  Walking not only improves my overall health, it gives me time to contemplate.  Walking takes time.  Walking five miles will take slightly more than an hour, and that gives me time to go over my work and think about what’s to come.

So, what do you do for exercise?  Or are you a writer 24/7?

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