How I Became a ‘Highly Active’ Writer
Hey, we all know it. Writers sit too much. And the longer we sit, the more we read about how damaging sitting is. It’s enough to make us too depressed to exercise! But there’s no way around it, writing is sedentary work…or is it?
After coveting Sherry D. Ramsey’s treadmill desk for about six months, I finally convinced my husband Barry to help me set up one of my own. Yes, we were both afraid I might not use it after going to the expense and trouble. But I had thought about it for over half a year and had reasonable projection of success because 1) I’ve always loved the notion of doing two things at once, 2) I’m at the computer 5+ hours a day all year round anyway, 3) I live in Canada where it’s often too cold to walk outside, 4) I like to exercise but always like what I’m doing other than exercising even more, 5) my body was full of aches and pains that I believed were due to too much sitting! All of this added up to pretty good evidence that I’d use it if I had it.
We finally got my configuration set up the second week of May. Instead of hacking a used treadmill the way Sherry did, we opted to go with a new ‘armless’ model that fit perfectly under a drafting table I already had. I then added another keyboard, monitor and mouse so that I could use my computer from the sitting desk or the treadmill.
It’s changed my life. Most days I walk for two hours and I do it without a struggle. I don’t have to make myself. I just do it because the idea of sitting is less appealing than walking. I don’t worry about how fast I walk though over the two months my ability to walk faster while I work has evolved a bit…up to 1.7 miles per hour for most activities. This isn’t “cardio,” but I don’t care. My goal is to move as much as possible every day. I won’t bore you with my obsessively-recorded statistics ;-), but I logged over 100 miles in the first 6 weeks of walking. This—along with the outdoor walking that I’m doing now that the weather is gloriously summery—puts me way over the 10,000 steps a day that has become a benchmark for healthy physical activity.
Based on currently available evidence, we propose the following preliminary indices be used to classify pedometer-determined physical activity in healthy adults: (i). <5000 steps/day may be used as a 'sedentary lifestyle index'; (ii). 5000-7499 steps/day is typical of daily activity excluding sports/exercise and might be considered 'low active'; (iii). 7500-9999 likely includes some volitional activities (and/or elevated occupational activity demands) and might be considered 'somewhat active'; and (iv). >or=10000 steps/day indicates the point that should be used to classify individuals as ‘active’. Individuals who take >12500 steps/day are likely to be classified as ‘highly active’.
But even this isn’t the best news. What has surprised me the most is how much more work I get done now that I’m walking and working at the same time. I used to sit at the computer for hours, but would—some days—only work a fraction of that time. When I’m walking, I’m motivated to be doing real work because I need my mind to be fully occupied so that I literally cannot think about the fact that my legs are moving or how much time has passed. Games, I find, don’t require as much concentration as I want. Writing stories, however, is transporting. Those days when I’m fully engaged in fiction, I’m often surprised to find that I’ve walked more than two hours. Physical activity pumps more blood/oxygen to my brain, so it makes sense that I’m working more and better.
Questions? I’m happy to talk more about the set up and the treadmill’s pros and cons
This post was written while walking. That’s 1 1/2 hours, 8100+ steps taken, 300+ calories burned, almost 3 miles walked, and I’m not through yet.
Proofread for typos and brainf*^ts by my pardner, Suze Corte. Thanks, sis!