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Want to get more exercise this year? Join the crowd. Getting in shape has long been a top New Year’s resolution. But writing, like other sedentary jobs, isn’t exactly conducive to improving fitness. The good news is you can use one of your innate talents to get yourself moving: creativity. Try these tips, and see how easy it is for you to slip exercise into your daily writing schedule.

Exercise at Your Desk

Just because you’re working at your desk doesn’t mean you can’t be exercising too. Between tasks, try doing arm pumps, leg lifts, body stretches, and shoulder rolls. For a full list of ideas, check out WebMD's desk workout guide.

Get Fit Before You Sit

Why not start the day with exercise, before you even begin writing? You’ll get your daily fitness out of the way, put your body and brain in working order, and feel energized and ready to write your best.

Rely on a Friend

For many people, getting inspired to exercise requires a companion. If that describes you, enlist a spouse, friend, or even your dog to be an exercise partner. Find someone who’s dependable and motivating so you won’t let each other down.

Restructure Your Lunch Break

Used to sitting at your desk while you eat? Try something new this year. Head to the lunch room for a change of scenery, then walk the stairs afterward. Or, take your lunch outside and finish with a stroll around the block.

Write It on the Schedule

If you keep a daily task list, include an exercise session in the schedule and make it as important as everything else on the list. Out of sight, out of mind, but “exercise” written in large print is a great way to remind you to do just that.

Take Five between Projects

It only takes five minutes to get a healthy spurt of exercise. Situps, pushups, lunges, squats, jumping jacks, you name it—you can work in plenty of exercise breaks between projects without infringing on your writing time.

Drink Up

Water isn’t just a hydrator; it boosts metabolism, aids digestion, cleans the body of toxins, and helps you lose weight. Plus, water encourages activity by motivating you to get up from your chair to use the restroom.

Becoming a nonsedentary writer is easier than you think. Resolve to meet your writing and fitness goals, and make this year the one you succeed at both.


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I recently read an article that said the weight problem in America (over one-third of us is obese and two-thirds are overweight) can be partly blamed on sedentary jobs. I guess I should consider myself lucky because I don’t have a weight problem and I’m a writer. Then again, I don’t really think it’s luck that puts me in the minority. Sure, I may be blessed with high metabolism, but I also have a few tricks up my sleeve that I would be remiss not to share. Here’s what I do to keep the weight off despite my sedentary job. It’s not rocket science, but it works. The key is, I do these every day, no breaks, no excuses.

  1. Snack smart. Snacks keep a lot of sedentary workers happy during the work day, but snacks can be a huge problem for weight control. Although I’m not a big snacker, when hunger strikes mid-morning I’ll answer with something really flavorful—without the calories. Pomegranate seeds (during the season) and spicy tea are two of my favorite snacks. Other good choices are carrot sticks, yogurt, apple slices, string cheese, popcorn, raisins, and almonds (but just a handful).
  2. Fiber up.Too much sitting isn’t good for the digestive system. What is, is fiber. If you don’t get enough fiber from your diet, a fiber supplement can help. But fiber supplements really aren’t necessary if you make a conscious effort to eat fiber-rich foods. My daily picks include high-fiber cereal, flaxseed, broccoli (see below), berries, and nuts. Oh, and don’t forget the water. I keep a glass of it at my desk and refill it throughout the day.

    Flaxseed, a Good Source of Fiber

  3. Shun the soda. Regular soda is bad news, but diet soda may be even worse. Its biggest problem is the artificial sweeteners, which can contribute to metabolic syndrome. Soda, especially the caffeinated kinds, can also be super addicting. If you drink it habitually (as many desk-bound workers do), do everything you can to stop, even if it means a week of headaches. If plain old water doesn’t satisfy your thirst, try unsweetened fruit juices, teas, or flavored water. Avoid the high-cal coffee drinks, too.
  4. Schedule exercise. I know from experience that writers have a hard time breaking away from their work, especially when they’re stuck on a sentence or paragraph. Fortunately, I have a dog who appears at my side at a certain time of day to let me know it’s time for his meal and walk. If you don’t have a companion (or the self-discipline) to nudge you off your chair, keep a clock nearby, set it if necessary, and take that daily exercise break. Go for a walk, head to the gym, or pop in an exercise video. Make the routine as important as finishing that paragraph.

    Schedule Exercise Daily (copyright Kenneth Allen)

  5. Veg out at meal time. No, not on the couch. In my lingo, that means eat lots of vegetables. At lunch and dinner, I try to fill my plate mostly with lettuce, beans, broccoli, carrots, mushrooms, etc. Why veggies? They’re low-cal, loaded with nutrients, and filling. Plus they make you feel good. Fruit, on the other hand, I limit. Although I’m a big fan of raspberries and blueberries, most fruit has too much sugar, which is not ideal for weight control.

So that’s it! Five easy tips. Give them a try. The only thing you’ve got to lose is a little weight.