Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Stand-Up Writer

I am not what anyone would call a fitness fanatic. I am far too fond of food for my own good, and while I am faithful to my morning walks & yoga sessions, I will never be one who looks forward to working up a good sweat. Look, I'm Canadian. Heat and I are just not friends.

Nevertheless, I do know that it's important for me to get off my well-endowed bottom and get moving or at least upright. We all know of the many health dangers associated with a sedentary lifestyle. Thanks to our many hours at the keyboard, writers need to be even more aware of the health risks of too many hours sitting. (True story: riding the elevator at one writing conference, a couple noticed my badge and asked what kind of group we were. When I said that we were romance writers, they started laughing and confessed that they thought it was a gathering of Overeaters Anonymous.)

A couple of years ago I started looking into setting up a treadmill desk. That hasn't happened yet, though it's still on my dream radar, but I realized that even if I couldn't pull off the treadmill, I could still make a move in the right – make that upright - direction. 

My first thought was to buy an adjustable desk – one that allows the used to switch from sitting to  standing with a few simple adjustments. They looked nice, but in considering my office space and my current desk, which was built into the bookshelves crammed with all of my supplies, I realized that this wasn't a practical option, either. But a little more research provided me with plenty of examples of do-it-yourself standing desks. 

This, I could do!

With a little willingness to think outside the box and less than an hour spent scrounging up materials, I transformed my writing space into my own (sort-of) adjustable desk. . Here's how it looks now: 

The monitor is propped up on an old safe. The upper keyboard and mouse are atop an old basket and a lovely gift box. Someday they will undoubtedly need to be replaced, but it's been well over two years now and they're holding strong. I use this keyboard and mouse when I stand, which I do as much as possible. My guideline is to stand for email, Facebook, etc. - all those peripheral parts of the writing life.
When I am actually writing, I sit and use the lower keyboard and mouse, located on a shelf that slides out of reach when I use the standing equipment. 

Being able to quickly and easily move from sitting to standing hasn't made any visible differences in my hips or endurance, but I know it's better for me. The benefits were driven home this weekend when I holed up in a hotel for an intense writing blast. I spent the bulk of the time working at the desk. I got a huge amount of work done, but I also have a stiff neck and an incredibly sore butt, all thanks to my enforced sedentary behavior. I can't wait to get back to being a stand-up writer again once I return home. 

Oh, and if anyone is wondering about the picture on my monitor – it's a great little five minute walking workout by Leslie Sansone, available on Youtube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bot9ma_sIh0). It's a fast, fun way to work out some of the kinks that can accompany those hours at the keyboard. 

What are some other easy ways to get more movement/upright time into our lives? I'm open to all suggestions!


Mary Preston said...

When I run errands, I actually walk to get them done. My friends think I'm crazy, but I factor in the time it will take & off I go. I am up & out, errands are done & I feel better for it.

kris said...

Mary, good for you! Fresh air, exercise, and you get to feel virtuous, all at once :-) Walking is just the best, isn't it?

mary sullivan said...

Kris, your walking/sitting desk is an excellent idea, and thank you for the link to the workout. I'll give it a try later today, at about 4 o'clock when I will really need to get up and get moving!

I drink water all day long, but don't keep it beside the computer, so I force myself to get up and walk to the dining room to drink it.

Like Mary, I walk when I'm running errands rather than jump into the car. When I do drive, I park at the far end of the parking lot.

These aren't big things, but all of these small ideas add up, don't they?

I think I'm going to have to do more soon, though. My tummy is getting bigger and bigger by the day:-(

Rogenna Brewer said...

The universe is speaking to me through the voice of Kris Fletcher. I know I need to do something. T

Tried treadmill writing and that didn't work for me. Couldn't concentrate. Or may it was I couldn't multitask :?

Kaelee said...

Kris ~ I'm not a writer but when I sit for a bit I try to move my feet. I stretch my feet forward and bring them back. Then I make circles with my toes. The first few times you do it it distracts you a bit but then it just becomes automatic. Keeps my blood circulating.

kris said...

Mary, did you give the walking workout a shot? It is a great energy boost in the afternoon, for sure. And you're so right - it does add up. Never as much as we would like, sigh, but at least it's something.

kris said...

LOL, Rogenna, if the universe is speaking to you in my voice, I strongly suggest hunting for a new universe :-)

I've heard it takes a while to adjust to working at a treadmill desk. It does sound like a challenge!

kris said...

Kaelee, I must remember that one! There are some long flights in my future, and I think those stretches sound perfect for them. Thanks!

Linda Henderson said...

I can't walk a whole lot with my arthritis problem but I do walk as much as I can. Maybe when I get my knees replaced I'll be able to walk more.

kris said...

Linda, fingers crossed that relief & long walks are in sight for you!

linda s said...

Can I recommend a two year old on the loose... Problem is you might not get any writing done.

Fedora said...

That's awesome, Kris! My husband got one of those adjustable sit/stand desks for the office, and it's taken a little getting used to, but I like it now :) Plus it makes it hard to fall asleep while I'm working ;p

When I can, I like to walk to drop off and pick up the kids from school--it's a workout and gets the job done ;)

Snookie said...

I get up from my desk and walk around all the time.

Cathryn Parry said...

Wow, Kris, good for you!

I don't have many ideas, except to take a stroll at lunch, no matter the weather. The fresh air feels good.

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