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Written By Madeline Shaw

Do you sit and write at your desk from dawn to dusk? You are the perfect candidate for five micro exercises to help you keep your body focussed on fitness when your mind is on work.

Some famous sitters

Let’s face it – sitting these days has a pretty bad name. It hasn’t always been the case.

Uri Friedman reveals that at the time of the Ancient Egyptians sitting was an important status symbol. The higher the status of the sitter, the more complex and decorative the chair.

Sitting has also been the pose of the muse. There is Rodin’s The Thinker – he wouldn’t be as impressive if he were standing. And the Mona Lisa whom no doubt Da Vinci asked to sit for many a day. In the 1960s group sit ins became a form of non-violent social protest such as the Greenbros sit in against racial segregation in Southern Carolina.

These historical examples are, of course, about temporary sitting. It’s the day in day out sitting at the desk we do today that contributes to health problems. For a 21st Century writer the general message is to move it!

Most of us have good intentions when it comes to exercise. We intend three trips a week to the gym or a couple of swims at the pool or even a dance class. But when a writing deadline looms the best intentions come unstuck.

Even the government cares about your sitting

Sitting has become a national issue. There are national guidelines to help you address the problem and give you a starting point to make a move.

I bet you didn’t look them up, but if you did you would find that for adults aged 18 to 64 years the message is to:

  • minimise the time spent being sedentary every day, and
  • break up long periods of sitting as often as possible.

Of course, you already know that and know that you should never sit at your desk all day. But sometimes a writer must. If you are going to sit, make sure you move – even if it’s a tiny bit.

Five Micro Exercises 

Here are five micro exercises that will stimulate circulation and relaxation. Best of all you can do them without anyone noticing that you are exercising – not even you.

The Squeeze. The biggest muscles in the body are in the buttocks and thighs. Use them! Squeeze your buttocks together as if you are holding a credit card between your cheeks. Hold for three. Release. Repeat. Not bad!

Next, It’s the toe wriggle. Wriggle your toes beginning with both the big toes at once. Then both the second toes and so on down to the little toes. Simple. Quick.

The gentle calf stretch. Lift the left heel from the floor keeping toes on the ground. Return heel to the ground. Lift the right foot from the floor keeping toes on the ground. Return heel to the ground. Alternate.

Hand squeezes. Squeeze both hands into a clenched fist. Hold for three and let go. Repeat five times. Any break from typing is good exercise.

Finally, the shoulder shrug – a popular exercise for all day sitters. Lift your shoulders up towards your ears and hold for the count of five. Repeat five times. If anyone does see you, they’ll think you don’t know what you are doing.

Let’s be honest, these simple, secret exercises won’t make you fit. But they might remind your body to keep moving. They might even inspire a lunch time walk, swim or a yoga class.

By Madeline Shaw – Madeline Shaw is a writer and editor. She specialises in education, well-being and the environment. Her other love is writing short stories.