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Wet Noodle Posse | Blog

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Get Up From That Desk

By Trish Milburn

We writers get the advice to BICHOK (Butt in Chair, Hands on Keyboard) all the time, and it’s good advice if you want to be productive. But I’d also like to advise you to get up from that chair at regular intervals. Your health could depend on it.

Like others before me have said, I’m not a medical professional. I don’t even play one on TV. But getting out of the chair a few minutes each hour, to me, is common sense. Why?

1. Blood clotsRecent studies have shown that workers who sit at their desks for long periods of time without getting up are at a significantly higher risk of developing deep-vein thrombosis (blood clots in the legs). If these clots dislodge, they can travel to the lungs and heart and cause a pulmonary embolism or heart attack. I don’t know about you all, but I don’t want a blood clot to be what does me in.

2. Obesity – The term “couch potato” has been around a long time, but I think as many or more of us are computer potatoes. Not only do we work at our desks, but we play there too. Combine work, e-mail, blogs, computer games, etc., and you’re looking at lots and lots of hours sitting in a chair. If we don’t get up and move, we might soon either need a bigger chair or a bed at the hospital.

3. Eyestrain – All that staring at a computer screen can lead to headaches and eyestrain. In fact, I have a headache right now, the root of which is likely staring at this computer screen.

4. Productivity – How many of you notice your productivity goes up if you get up from the computer for a few minutes every hour then come back to your work in progress? I know mine does. This is especially true if I’ve taken a half-hour break to walk on the treadmill. It gives my brain a break while doing something healthy for my body.

If you get so engrossed in your work that you often look up and two hours have passed without you getting up from your chair, invest in a kitchen timer or alarm clock for your office space. Set it for however long you want to work before a break – 30 minutes, 45 minutes, whatever, but I’d suggest an hour or less. Then set it again for the amount of time you want to be on your break – 10, 15, 30 minutes.

Another thing you might try is working standing up for a few minutes. Set your laptop or a hard copy of your manuscript on a taller surface like your kitchen counters, and work there to give your body a break from all that sitting.

Remember, getting published or continuing to sell books after you’re published doesn’t mean a lot if you’re not around to enjoy it. I’m certainly glad I’m still around to enjoy today – the release day for my first book.



At 4:45 AM, Blogger Margay said...

This is pretty scary stuff. Blood clots? Yikes. Gives you a lot to think about, huh? Thank God I have a pretty demanding daughter who keeps me hopping (up from the desk) all the time!

At 6:41 AM, Blogger Chicki said...

Recently I've written two blog entries about my solution to this problem. After seeing this story on ABC's 20/20:

If you want to see mine, visit my blog at and scroll down to the entry entitled, "Working Toward Health - Pt. 2." There's a video link at the end with me on my new desk.

At 10:24 AM, Blogger Theresa Ragan said...

Great point, Trish! We have to enjoy the journey or what's the point!? Stretching helps a lot!

Margay, good point. Kids keep you out of your chair and running, that's for sure!

Chicki, interesting stuff.

thanks for sharing, Trish. Great tips!

At 10:30 AM, Blogger Mo H said...

Getting up to get some coffee helps me! I also walk to the mailbox for a break.

At 11:22 AM, Blogger Trish Milburn said...

margay, yeah, I'm guessing those with small children at home might not have as big a problem with this. :)

Chicki, thanks for stopping by and mentioning the information you've got on your blog.

Theresa, amazing how good a stretch feels after sitting for awhile. Hmm, I think I'll get up and stretch now.

Mo, a walk to the mailbox is good. Plus, it gets you outside breathing some fresh air.

At 2:17 PM, Blogger Louisa Cornell said...

Eeek! Blood clots! Not good! Chair potato - that's me. And I REALLY need to lose some weight. So, I will remember to get up and walk around more. Good to know!

At 5:17 PM, Blogger Esri Rose said...

Congrats on your new book!!!

They used to think that brain cells didn't regenerate, but it turns out that's not true. What causes you to get new ones? Exercise! That's reason enough for me to exercise. If I don't, I get dumber. If I do, I'll be able to think up fun stuff to a ripe old age.

At 7:14 PM, Blogger Norah Wilson said...

Trish, you sure hit the high points of this BICHOK lifestyle! I totally agree getting up from the keyboard can help you come back refreshed and more productive. I like combining laundry and writing. The breaks come at good intervals, and I have to climb stairs. :-)

I'd like to try a standing workstation some time to see how I like it. I can't imagine writing on a treadmill, though. There's something about physical movement that tends to empty my conscious mind. I have a hunch the subconscious is working, but that's about it.

At 8:51 PM, Blogger Santa said...

What a great way to announce your publication date!

This blog is very timely for me. I had a DVT scare befoer I went to National this summer. No idea where it came from except that I don't exercise as much as I used to and I am on my feet pretty much in one location all day long. As a result of the DVT I am very conscious of how long I've stayed on my feet or how long I've been sitting.

So, I'm taking care of myself and hope that we all do because there's a lot of talent out there just waiting to be able to say: My first book releases today.

At 9:09 PM, Blogger Louisa Cornell said...

Take care Santa! That is nothing to fool around with!

At 12:33 AM, Blogger Trish Milburn said...

Thanks for all the comments today, everyone. And remember, get up and move. :)

At 1:12 AM, Blogger Diane Gaston said...

I have my copy of Trish's book!

I am really trying to keep in the Curves habit. I squirm a lot on my couch so I'm not worried about clots.

But great advice!!


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