WRITING AND OUR HEALTH

Hi SEers! Denise here, and today I’m going to talk about how writing affects our health.

Writing has many benefits for our minds and brain. Letting those written words flow keeps our mind sharp as we get older, helps solve problems, allows us to express ourselves, and opens the door to learning. It can promote happiness, gratitude, and encourage leadership, all from typing or writing your thoughts down.

That’s great for our minds, but does our body reap the same benefits from sitting long hours expressing ourselves? Unfortunately, no.

After sitting at my desk editing for several hours without a break, I notice how tight my muscles are. Then, when I get up, I can barely move; my back and shoulders hurt.

While writing may exercise the brain, we need to take care of the body where our brain lives. Some physical writing-related issues include lower back pain, carpal tunnel, eye strain, weight gain, muscle/tendon issues, headaches, stress, and depression.

Lately, I’ve been taking care of my mind instead of my body. This circles around and cancels some wonderful mental benefits writing offers. I decided it was time to add exercise into my writing routine.

Here are some of my ideas:

Stop every hour and move around.

During these breaks, I like to do a couple of yoga poses. Here are two of my favorites, tree pose and warrior pose. I found a site that has some seated yoga poses: Link

If you aren’t into yoga or want to mix it up, here are some simple stretches or desk routines.

Pay attention to the body position. Is your keyboard too high or low? How are you sitting? I sit with my left foot on its side. I have no idea why, but later I find it hurts, so I consciously make sure it’s flat, and I’m not slumped over.

If you have wrist pain after writing, make sure your arms are supported and level, not below or above the keyboard. During these breaks, check to see if you’re using good posture while writing!

After some movement, I close my eyes and meditate for a moment. It not only gives my tired eyes a rest but renews my energy and soothes my soul.

Have some extra time? You could take a walk or go on a run during one of these breaks. I find it really sparks ideas, or after a long writing or editing session, it brings me back down to earth and grounds me in reality.

Note: Always check with your doctor before starting any new exercise program.

Desk and equipment while writing

A comfortable chair with armrests is a must, no matter where I’m writing.

A desk, or where you write, needs to be as comfortable as possible. Mine includes a small heater because writing always makes me cold. I keep a constant water supply handy, have my glasses nearby, and some almonds as a snack.

Next, I added some “extras” or under the desk exercise equipment to use while I was writing.

I poured through the many types of under-desk equipment, including treadmills, bicycling, and ellipticals. I finally decided on a moderately priced under the desk elliptical since it’s my go-to exercise machine that’s easy on my joints. I added that under my desk.

The other extra I’d been eyeing for a few years was a desk riser. After some research, I decided on a reasonably priced portable one to move around as needed.

Both are working out better than I hoped. Now I have the option of standing while writing, as long as my feet and back allow, or exercising as I sit. It’s nice to have the option to alternate between the two.

Including writing breaks and movement when I’m creating, I now have a thorough exercise program. This offers a perfect combination for the words to flow freely while encouraging a personal path to the healthiest mind, soul, and body possible.

Do you have a writing exercise routine? How often do you take writing breaks?

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96 thoughts on “WRITING AND OUR HEALTH

  1. I agree that mind and body work best together. I know I write productively after exercise or yoga, even done the evening before a morning writing session. The same with even a short mediation. My bad habit is tensing my legs when I write. Not sure why, I do it but I do. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, they do work best together:) I do better writing after exercise or even meditation too. It’s good to be aware of our bad habits, but like you, I have no idea where they came from. Thanks for stopping by!

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    • I completely agree with you, Jay that reading and writing benefit our health in positive ways. I added on exercise to continue that:)

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  3. Great post, Denise.Unfortunately, I slump on the couch with my laptop when I write:(
    I do the tree and warrior every morning, though unfortunately my arms/branches are waving wildly as I try to maintain my balance;)
    Enjoy your vacay:)

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Sandra:) It is so much easier to get comfy and then forget to move! I’ve done it for years. I like to think of myself as a tree gently blowing in the wind. It does help to focus on tightening my core, but not all the time. My yoga teacher in college used to tell me to sink my roots and somedays they won’t go very deep. I’m having a wonderful vacay, thanks! xo

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  5. After 42 desk bound years, mostly in front of a terminal of some sort, I am very cautions not to sit too long or read or write too much without giving my body, eyes and mind a break. Your suggestions are great. I don’t have space to add a standing desk or riser. My desk is small and has a rising section in the back. And, it sits under a cat shelf, and, well, I’m already considered a trespasser 😉

    The suggestion to get up and move every hour is so important..

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This is much needed information, Denise. I have smart watch which reminds me to stand, breathe, move. I’m getting better at using the reminders. My knee will lockup if I sit too long and I always promise I’ll get up soon. The watch reminds me. I may look into the elliptical for under my desk.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I used to be so good about getting up and moving around. I’d do it every hour (my Fitbt alerts me when I’ve been sitting too long). I’ve gotten lax about it lately and often have lower back pain as a result. I have a writing routine and an exercise routine (jogging 5 days a week), but I haven’t looked at a routine that brings the writing and exercise together. All good reminders and tips, Denise!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Mae:) I used to be really good about moving more and exercising. When I hurt my back a couple years ago I never got back into my routine. So now’s my time. I tried to jog a bit on the magical trail but my foot that I broke gives me a lot of trouble, and running is hard on it. Marcia mentioned using a fitbit too. I used to use a similar brand and then replaced it with a fitbit…then lost it. I know it pushed me to do more. Unless it magically shows up, never know, I might have to get another one to keep track of my writing excerise and the rest. I definitely need a timer for my under the desk elliptical and to remind me when I get too much into the writing zone to move.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. This is such an important subject, Denise. Thanks for the links! I’m always looking for new ways to combat “writer pain.”

    Mind if I share a tip? It’s called the 20/20 rule. For every 20 minutes of staring at the computer, look away for 20 seconds and focus on something in the distance. For example, I stare out the window at Poe’s (“my” crow) tree. The conifer stands about a 1/4 acre away—perfect distance for the 20/20 rule—which also allows me to have a specific target in place. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • I agree, Sue, this is an important subject and one I’m really focusing on right now. There is good information out there for movement to help relieve and avoid that pain. I’m glad you brought up the 20/20 rule. Harmony mentioned the same thing. My eyes bother me when I’m at the computer too long. I think this is the perfect thing to add to my routine.
      I love you have a Poe tree to focus on. I have a few trees I could use to focus on, and have two ravens who have made their home in our forest. Maybe I’ll spot them during this exercise. Thanks, for the suggestion!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. This is such a great post, Denise. We do spend hours at our desks creating and our bodies pay the price. I purchased an adjustable desk addition that sits on top of my desk and allows me to stand and write. That has been invaluable! I suffer from scoliosis and when I sit too long, my back kills me. All of your tips are wonderful and very helpful. I find that taking a short break every hour does help and stretches are a great way to loosen up muscles and get the blood flowing. Thank you so much for sharing! Much needed by all!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Jan 🙂 I remember when you got that adjustable desk and wondered if that would for me. I appreciated you sharing your experience with it. Then my daughter got one right after and loved hers too, and suggested I get one, but I put it off. Like you I have the same back issue, and I do better laying down or standing and moving over sitting. Moving while I’m sitting helps if I’m sitting correctly. Then the exercise seems to encourage my creativity since the blood is flowing and I’m not hurting. I’m getting more ideas here today too of new things to try. I’m so grateful my grandkids being around all the time now, reminded me of how important it is to be able to move and stay in shape for them and me.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I needed that kick too, Craig. When my daughter and her family moved in a few months ago I became aware of how much I had been sitting when the grandkids wanted me to move more…lol. So this has been my quest and I’ve been trying some new things to get there.

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  10. Great information, Denise! And boy, are you on target about how bad long hours of sitting can be. My first realizations of how it was impacting me physically were swollen ankles and a very stiff, sore lower back at the end of each day. The best thing I’ve done for myself so far was to get a FitBit. No fooling. It alerts me at ten minutes to the hour that it’s time to get up and walk at least 250 steps. Now that’s not a lot, but if you do it for a minimum of 9 hours, that short break adds up. I am walking between 2.5 and 3 miles a day now IN THE HOUSE. (Way too hot down here for me to enjoy outdoor walking). But 3 circuits of the house through each room and back to the desk gets me my 250, while energizing me with a short break from staring at the monitor. Sometimes I add a quick chore or two during the walk, like filing the bird feeder or watering some potted plants, while still being sure I hit my 250 steps.

    The immediate result was no more swollen ankles (from lack of circulation) at the end of the day. That in itself was worth it. Then my energy level increased, and my stiffness decreased. That ten-minute break every single hour is a huge help, and something that even folks who aren’t very physical can usually do. You don’t have to walk fast to gain the benefits. You just have to move your backside off of the chair and step out. The FitBit tallies each hour, AND tracks every step I take all day long, whether related to the 10-minute walk or not. I am definitely in better shape these days than I’ve been in for years! 🙂 Now you’ve got me thinking about an under the desk elliptical. I’d never even heard of that, and it might be something for me to consider. Standing to work is right out, though. My back issues scream at me when I stand still very long. But moving my legs would not only increase circulation, it would also BURN CALORIES. Always a good thing! 😀

    Thanks for such an informative and inspiring post, Denise. I’m thinking an under the desk elliptical is in my future. 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Marcia:) My daughter has a fitbit and I used something simlar years ago. I remember it encouraged me to move when I wouldn’t have. Then I got fitbit and lost it right away and never replaced it. You are right those extra steps here and there help. I might have to break down and buy another one someday, I keep hoping I’ll find it but no luck so far. I can’t stand still, I move around a bit and try not to lock my knees. Sometimes I dance around a bit…lol. You sound like have a good routine in place. I do enjoy my full size and under the deck elliptical now. I need to keep moving, since the autoimmune issues I’ve dealt with in past are of the clotting nature so sitting a long time isn’ta good idea. Keep me posted if you get an elliptical and how you like it.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. A really useful post, Denise. I have osteoarthritis and started to get sharp pains in my neck and back. A physio in the family (I recommend getting one!) pointed out that my chair was set too high for my screen. I’ve had no problems since. I had to look up elliptical as well! I had bone grafts that didn’t take in one knee and the other one has suffered as a consequence. This limits the exercise I can do with my lower body but I do try to get up frequently from my keyboard and finding something simple to do in the garden such as filling a bird feeder or some pruning. Being outside always raises my spirits and often subconsciously unknots a plot problem.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Alex:) Sorry about your osteoarthritis, but glad you got help setting up your desk to make to comfortable for you. My son pushed we get an elliptical when our treadmill died. I did find it easier on my joints, so getting one for under the desk was a next good step for me. I had a core flex under my desk but kept pulling muscles and hurting myself. Gardening and being outside is wonderful not only to get moving but its inspirational too, just like you said. I work out a lot plot issues in nature.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Great tips and pointers. My optician gave me a routine for my eyes, which is a 20-20-20 … every 20 minutes, stop and look roughly 20 metres into the distance for 20 seconds. Until my vision deteriorated significantly, I neglected eye exercise. Thanks for sharing, Denise 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • That is good advice to all of us to do that, Harmony. Sorry about your eyes and hope it doesn’t worsen. I do glance outside but not often enough. Editing and formatting cause my eye muscles to feel werid or spasm, so I can see how this would help. I like to write outside when I can because I can look further it it really does seem to help. Thanks, for sharing this, Harmony it is something we all can do.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Hi,
    Great ideas. I don’t usually take a break every hour because I have made it a habit not to go into my office until eleven even though I arise very early in the morning. I have gotten used to starting my day slowly, meditating before I go in my office. Reading a chapter or two out of a good book on mental, emotional, and spiritual fitness by authors I admire. And important too is my visit to my fitness centre twice a week in the early morning, which is ten minutes away from me by car. I can testify that exercising your muscles will rid your body of lots of pain and give you a new energy. It makes you feel good. Of course, my results didn’t come right away but if you keep at it you will feel the difference.
    Thanks for an informative article that gave me a confirmation about what I have been doing.
    Shalom aleichem

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thanks, Pat:) It sounds like you have a good routine in place that works for you. I agree meditation, reading positive books, and going to the gym makes a huge difference. I see the difference in my day if I go on my full elliptical and meditate before writing. Even with that I still need to remind myself to move because I tend to get too focused and forget. Whatever we do to keep moving and healthy, it’s so true that results take time!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. I know I find I sit in stretches that last far too long without moving, and I get way too stiff. I tell myself I need to move every hour, then five hours later, I’m still typing. These are excellent suggestions, Denise. Now I need to put them into practice! Thanks.

    Liked by 4 people

    • That was my problem that hours would go by unnoticed and I would be so stiff:) Making the change at my desk, so far, has really encouraged me to get moving. Also writing about and making that commitment pushes me further. I hadn’t noticed how out of shape I’d gotten until my grandkids were around more the last few months, and I needed to keep up.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Priscilla:) A kneeling chair would be a good option too. I haven’t tried one but have heard it’s good for posture and activing muscles.

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  15. Great post, Denise, and an important reminder to all of us. My day job requires me to sit behind at a computer all day. I come home and sit at my writing desk (or on the sofa with my laptop). I have knee problems, so many exercises are out of the question for me. However, I have a program of stretches that I can do throughout the day. (When I remember!) Five minutes at a time is all it takes to keep me limber. I also have a vibration plate exerciser near my desk at home. Ten minutes on it (I can sit while doing it) improves circulation.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Sorry about your knees, I can image that makes it more of a challenge to keep moving. I’ve never heard of a vibration plate exerciser, so I looked it up. That sounds like another good option to consider and a great way to keep the blood flowing. Thanks for sharing that, Joan:)

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Wonderful suggestions and reminders, Denise. If we’re at our desk for hours, we’re definitely going to hurt somewhere. You’ve offered great possibilities to consider to loosen locked muscles and weary bones. Thank you! 😊

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks, Gwen. Yes all that sitting does have its side effects. I know I just have to be more mindful and listen to my body. Writing this has made me commit to that.

      Liked by 1 person

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  18. This is great information, Denise. My day job requires all day behind the computer screen. I make a point of standing every 15 or 20 minutes. I do the same when writing on the weekend. During the pandemic I was working from home and I ended up with De Quervain’s tenosynovitis from over using my laptop without a wireless mouse. I need surgery, but I’ve been putting it off. I keep plenty of water and almonds nearby too! 🙂

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  19. HI Denise, this is a useful post full of good information. Writing is the same as my day job as both require a lot of detailed work on a computer. I go to a physiotherapist once a week because three disks in my neck are compacted from years of anxiety and stress at work. I use a hot pad around my neck for pain and tension and that helps. I also try to stretch and walk at least 30 minutes a day. It doesn’t always happen but I do try.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thanks, Robbie:)
      That sounds painful in your neck, a hot pad would sure help. It’s really hard to form that habit to move around and so easy to break it, especially when we get so involved. Writing this post has made me more determined to take care of my body. I hurt a disk in my lower back a couple of years ago and never got back into my routine, so now I decided was my time. Walking and stretching are so helpful and glad they offer you some relief.

      Liked by 2 people

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  21. A great article with very good tips. Honestly, I have to say that I can be without a writer. I always have two 2.5 kg dumbbells and a yoga mat next to my desk. Things go on trips with me if need be, unless the 20 kg baggage limit has already been reached elsewhere. 🙂 Happy Easter! Be well, stay save, enjoy life! Michael

    Liked by 3 people

    • Hi Michael:)
      I like you have a yoga mat and dumbells by your desk. Smart to take them with when traveling, if you can. I’ve been using full waterbottles as my weights, but I think I’ll some hand weights. A yoga mat would be another great addition nearby, thanks for sharing that. I hope you stay well, safe and enjoy life too! Happy Easter!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Hello Diana? Great to hear. This is useful in this pandemic too. Thank you for the tip with the waterbottles. A very good idea! The yoga mat is due to the always hard floor. I already felt effeminate, but a few times without a mat called the lower part of my back on the scene. 😉 Happy Easter to you as well! Stay save, and well too. Michal

        Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Michael:) Diana is close, my name is Denise. Yes hardwood floors do need a mat, it’s definitely hard on the back. The pandemic has forced some creativity.

      Liked by 2 people

    • No problem, Michael:) Oddly enough I’ve been called Diana more than once. I must look like a Diana…lol.

      I agree about having more time to read, its a nice side effect!

      Liked by 2 people

  22. Thank you so much for posting this! I really needed this today. Since quarantine, I’ve used a couple of different workout apps, and there’s one that has a good “deskercise” workout that I like to do when I need a break from writing. I think the app is called WorkoutWomen? Women’s Workout? Something like that lol.
    Where did you find your under-the-desk treadmill? I’ve been interested in getting one of those for a while, but I’m not sure where to look!

    Liked by 5 people

    • Hi Lauryn:)
      That’s a good idea to use an exercise app. I researched and read a few “best” articles. I found an expensive one mentioned often listed on Amazon. There I looked around on started reading some reviews and found another one in my price range.

      So far so good. I feel the work out in my legs and it’s quiet. I had to use my cell phone stop watch so I wouldn’t under or over use it. I do have to sit back a bit so my knees have the room they need, but otherwise it does all I want. I haven’t had it long so not sure on its durability yet.

      I hope you find one that works good for you!

      Liked by 3 people

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