Rebecca Carey Lyles
I’m sitting in a chair as I write this, but I shouldn’t be. Why? Because a recent Swedish study concluded we need to move every few minutes to maintain our health. So, I just stood up, touched my toes five times and did a couple lunges. Now, I’m back at it. ☺
The Swedish study, combined with others, found that lack of movement is harmful to our health. Dr. Peter Katzmarzyk of the Pennington Biomedical Research Center at Louisiana State University, says, “Sitting is a risk factor, not a disease. It's comparable to obesity, and it's almost to the level of smoking.” Dr. Joseph Mercola of mercola.com writes: “Mounting research suggests that even if you exercise regularly, you might still succumb to the ill effects of too much sitting.” What are those ill effects? Heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, stroke, shortened lifespan... Shortened lifespan? Yikes!
For years, we’ve been told regular exercise leads to improved health. If you’re like me, you’re thinking, I exercise every day for at least half an hour. Isn’t that enough? Evidently not—because, as the authors of the Swedish study point out, no matter how vigorously we exercise, that burst of exertion only involves a tiny portion of our 24-hour day. Dr. Mercola explains the problem by quoting David Dunstan of the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne, Australia. He says the lack of muscle contraction caused by sitting decreases blood flow throughout our bodies, thereby “reducing the efficiency of biological processes.”
I hate to say this, but housekeeping is good for us, as are washing cars, raking leaves, mowing lawns and tending gardens. Your house may be spotless, like mine (just joking…), and your hubby mows the lawn; plus, he takes the car to the carwash. What can we do around the house (or the office) to move our muscles?
Dr. Mercola sets an online timer to ring every 15 minutes. He takes a 30-60 second standing break and may do stretches or squats or posture exercises. If your house or building has stairs, you could run up and down a couple times and do some calf stretches—or heel stretches on one stair. Those with wood or tile floors might slide or skip around the house (or the office, if you’re daring).
Sweep your front porch. Do jumping jacks on your deck. Set your laptop or tablet on a counter and work while standing. Use a door frame to stretch arm and shoulder muscles. Yoga moves and isometric exercises are also great options. Even standing and rolling your head from side to side can be beneficial.
In nonmedical terminology from a nonmedical person, I think the idea is to keep our blood flowing. Remember, writers’ brains crave fresh blood as much as our muscles do. Stand up, stretch, march in place, sit down and write!
Rebecca Carey Lyles grew up in Wyoming, the setting for her Kate Neilson novels. She currently lives in Idaho, where she serves as an editor and a mentor for aspiring authors and as a coach for women transitioning from prison to life on “the outside.” Her most recent book, Winds of Freedom, is the sequel to the award-winning first novel in the Kate Neilson series, Winds of Wyoming. She recently served as an editor and contributor for a short-story collection titled Passageways, which is scheduled to release next month.
About Winds of Freedom:
Winter storms blast across the Whispering Pines Guest Ranch, and a cold wind blows through Kate Neilson’s soul. Despite her pain, Kate’s well-being takes a backseat to the needs of loved ones: her best friend, who’s been ensnared by evil; her failing great-aunt, whose dementia care keeps Kate guessing; and Laura and Mike Duncan, whose ranch and livelihood are threatened by a land-grabbing neighbor.
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