Thomas Edison described the roots of genius to be ninety-nine percent perspiration and only one percent inspiration. If only writers, whether geniuses or not, broke into a sweat more often than they do. They might be able to ward off the damage to their health of long periods of sitting.
When your work means sitting in front of a computer screen all day you pay a price. Read on to learn seven negative side effects of sitting too long.
Writing and Health
Best selling author Stephen King attributes at least some of his success to two factors. With estimated earnings of $17 million per annum, he’s getting something right. In his book, On Writing, he shares some of his advice for aspiring writers.
King describes how physical health and a strong marriage are the two most important reasons for his success. It seems that the wellbeing industry has a supporter in the world of horror novel writing. The challenge is to find ways of maintaining your health when the writing process means you have long periods of enforced immobility.
1. Heart of the Matter
Long periods of time in a sedentary occupation means you burn fewer calories than if you were active. If you consume more calories than you burn, your body deposits some of the excess calories around your body in the form of fat.
The increased fatty acids carried in your bloodstream can lead to restriction and blocking of the arteries. This furring of the arteries caused by raised cholesterol levels causes high blood pressure and heart disease. This puts pressure on your heart to maintain circulation and can lead to a heart attack.
Sedentary occupations and heart disease are clearly linked. There is also a clear relationship between lower cardiovascular risk and greater physical activity. Getting up from your desk and being active is good for the health of your heart.
Heart problems may lead to medical interventions including drug therapies. Atrial fibrillation is an example of a condition whose risk factors include high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes among others. View here to learn about treatments.
2. Organ Damage
Your heart is not the only organ that can suffer as a result of physical inactivity. Your pancreas also suffers when you are inactive.
Your muscles turn glucose into energy. They do this when stimulated by a hormone produced by the pancreas. This hormone is insulin.
Muscles that are idle for long periods of time become less responsive to insulin. It takes more insulin than normal to carry the glucose to the cells that convert it to energy. The pancreas works overtime producing the extra insulin and this can result in diabetes.
Physical activity reduces the incidence of colon cancer. It may be that more physical activity helps movement in the gut, reduces levels of obesity and reduces levels of insulin. These and other factors show sitting for long periods of time comes with a greater risk of cancer.
3. Neck and Back Problems
Sitting on a seat at a keyboard is not a natural position for the human body. Your body has not had millions of years of time to evolve the necessary skeleton and muscles to do this without damage. Even ergonomic design principles can only go so far to reduce the harmful impact on your neck and back.
Sitting for long periods at a desk can result in neck ache, strains, and even severe pain. Sore backs and shoulders are the results of repetitive movements such as typing or lack of movement. Movement allows blood and nutrients to get to the disks between vertebrae, so inaction results in inflexibility and damage.
4. Muscling In
Muscles respond well to activity. Lack of activity leads to the wasting and softening of muscles. Then, when you need them to work, you could suffer from strains and tears.
The abdominal muscles are not used when sitting. The back stretches in a seating position. These two factors result in poor posture and a weakened core when standing or walking.
Your glutes are also unused when sitting. They are vital for a good walking or running action. Lack of exercise in this area results in poor stability and strength making walking or running weak.
5. Last Leg
The reduction in blood circulation that results from sitting for a long time is especially bad in your legs. Pooling of blood can take place causing swelling in your ankles and even varicose veins. These unsightly blue or purple bulges in the legs can also feel uncomfortable, heavy and ache too.
Deep vein thrombosis is a condition often associated with long-haul plane flights. The many hours of inactivity can lead to blood clots and stroke. Long hours of writing can result in the same condition.
Bones need to be weight-bearing to stimulate growth and thickening. If they don’t get plenty of weight-bearing activity they can become less dense and then be prone to fracture. This osteoporosis in hips and legs can be especially problematic later on in life.
Working indoors for long periods of time also means you see little natural sunlight. Your body produces vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. Vitamin D deficiency could lead to osteoporosis.
6. Obesity and Diabetes
One of our greatest health challenges in western societies is obesity. Poor diet and lack of physical activity result in high levels of obesity and Type 2 diabetes. Any sedentary job comes with the risk of weight gain and the associated health problems.
It isn’t the lack of physical exercise alone that is the problem. Sitting can result in a lowering of lipoprotein lipase activity. This reduces your body’s ability to burn fat. As a result, your body burns carbohydrate to make energy rather than burning fat so that even with a lower calorie diet you still gain fat.
7. Depression and Anxiety
Taking exercise makes your body produce endorphins. These natural mood-boosting chemicals lift your spirits and make you feel good. Without exercise, you starve your body of these natural anti-depressants.
Solitary work can lead to loneliness which if there are also low levels of endorphins can lead to depression and anxiety.
What Can You Do About the Effects of Sitting Too Long?
The answer to this writer’s woe is to avoid sitting for too long. Take frequent breaks. Use the breaks to take exercise rather than watch television or surf the internet.
A brisk walk outside or a run will balance the negative effects of sitting too long. It may even provoke more productivity when you are writing.
Learn more about how to be a productive writer.
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