Dangers of a sedentary lifestyle

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON JUNE 9, 2014

X-POSTED TO NEW BLOG BY REQUEST ON JANUARY 27, 2015

Lots of things have been going on lately in my life. Good things and bad things. And the worst thing is probably the best thing.

huh.

There has likely been some confusion swirling around about my career. I had a medical scare. I’ve been on the fence with how much to share, but my goal here is to encourage people to take better care of themselves, so I’m going to offer my story up. I want to say up front it was a medical scare that turned out okay. I was in a high risk category but I don’t think I am now (I see the doc again tomorrow.) The lifestyle changes I am making are to prevent being scared again–but I feel great right now. So–people stop worrying.

Three weeks ago, I developed a blood clot in what, luckily, turned out to be a superficial vain. It still hurt really bad. And the length of the vein damage (groin to calf) bumped me in a higher risk category for the kind of clot that has much worse complications. I was given a few choices for how negate this happening, and being a granola kind of girl, I chose the one with the least amount of chemical medications and invasiveness (also I’m totes not into getting a shot EVERY DAY.) The doctor told me when I was sitting I had to elevate my leg above my heart and put hot compresses on it. And I wasn’t allowed to sit much. And the rest of the time, I had to be walking and moving.

Not wanting to have him change my prognosis at the next appointment (because shot EVERY DAY) I set about to do this moving that he spoke of.

Which is really hard to do when your work keeps you sitting at a computer 10+ hours a day every day. I had to figure out how to live offline. Not easy for this girl. I had to squeeze work into 20-30 minute sprints with my legs on a yoga ball and my laptop on my chest. Again, not easy. And, after doing some research, I realized that I have probably been killing myself by sitting at a computer 10+ hours a day.

 Women who sit for more than six hours a day have a roughly 40 percent higher risk of dying from any cause, regardless of their fitness level, versus those who sit for fewer than three hours.” 

Sedentary women have more than double the risk of developing a pulmonary embolism, a.k.a. a blood clot in the lungs. “Prolonged sitting makes your blood flow sluggish and more likely to form clots, which can become lodged in your lungs,” explains Christopher Kabrhel, M.D., M.P.H., an emergency medicine physician at Massachusetts General Hospital.”

http://www.womenshealthmag.com/health/standing-desk


So, I had to make some choices about adding balance to my life. We’re saving for a treadmill desk for long-term and I need to take a pause and make getting healthy my full-time job for the short-term. ETA: neighbor had a free treadmill for me and husband fashioned a desk from plywood and magic. I use it for about an hour every day.

Which means I have to step away from management at Entangled Publishing. A job that I love, adore, and worked so hard build. But I can’t do it justice right now.

So, long story short. This message is to encourage you to move. Right now, I work in 30 minute sprints and move for 30 minutes. When I get the clean bill of health, I’ll need to do 45/15 for the rest of forever. I bought a Fitbit–which I encourage everyone to do. I am spending more time with my husband, with my dogs, with the outdoors. I’m losing physical weight. And I’m weighing all my choices to make sure I am eating, sleeping, loving, and working in a way that my health (of my mind, body, and soul) is my focus. And my work is definitely a part of that because I love what I do. I just need to remember it’s part of the pie chart, not the whole pie.

So, if you hear rumors. I wasn’t fired (still at Entangled, just stepped down from management), I’m not dying (scary and expensive wake up call), and I’m still freelancing. ETA: I left Entangled about a month later. What I’m not doing is sitting at a desk from 6 a.m to 8 p.m or later. I removed myself from almost all loops and subscriptions (I’ll miss you Publisher’s Marketplace). I play Words with Friends once a day with my first cup of coffee and then don’t get on Facebook again until next morning. I check into Twitter several times a day, but don’t leave it open. I’m looking in to ways to listen to manuscripts (the text-to-speech is still weird to me, but I’m trying to acclimate myself.) I’m drinking lots of water. I cut back on meat–once or twice a week instead of once or twice a day. I go for short walks, I go for long walks, I go up and down my basement stairs ten times a day on purpose. I am reading for personal enrichment. I am going to bed earlier. I’m going to street fairs and festivals instead of holing up in my house and staying away from people. I wrote this blog post in two different sessions. 🙂 I edit for half an hour and then think about it while I walk. I started writing again. Because all of these things together make me a better, happier person. (Don’t try to make me drink my coffee without my full fat cream though.)

Most of my friends are editors and writers and agents and we are all sitting too much. Please, for me, make it a priority to move. Circulate your blood. Get fresh air. It doesn’t matter if you exercise once a day at the gym and are in great shape, if your job is sitting, you need to break it up with movement.  In a week, you will be rewarded. More clarity. More energy. More better stuff. I promise.

And I’m still taking submissions!

ETA: This is the Fitbit I have.

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  • Babs Hogan

    Gwen, this is the kind of story us health and fitness professionals love to read. In our biz, we call being inactive all day long the official “Sitting disease.” As we get older, all systems decline…IF we are inactive. Remarkably, these systems can actually improve with strength training and cardio exercise. You mentioned clarity and energy. Yep, exercise boosts brain power and reduces fatigue. You’re right about the full fat creamer for coffee. Don’t skimp on this. I’m writing a book about a similar topic. Thanks for your encouragement and taking the time to remind us to be more active and generally take care of ourselves. We all need it and the rewards are great for a lifetime. Congrats, you’re on the right track.

    • http://gwenhayes.com/ Gwen Hayes

      Thanks, Babs. It was very tempting to not share my story because…who likes talking about their health issues in public? But it occurred to me while pacing my backyard that everyone I know and love is in the publishing business and we are horrible sitters.

      My newest thing is going to be dictating my stories. I’m learning to use Dragon Naturally Speaking and eventually I’ll be cruising around my backyard talking to myself and the voices in my head.