Sitting Ducks

DSCN4668I remember as a child I was always on the move. I spent my afternoons running through the wooded trails of our local park, riding my bike down quiet country roads and playing street hockey with the neighborhood kids. Somewhere between childhood and adulthood, I lost the liberty of that active life to the mundane pattern of school and work. I managed to incorporate physical activity in my early jobs as a server. Eventually, I moved to desk jobs but kept up regular exercise through dance and theatre. I was pretty consistent until the unexpected arrival of RA when most of my energy was depleted struggling against the symptoms of my disease. The pain and inflammation made it difficult to continue with additional activity and in the months that followed, I sank deeper into the sleepy routine of a deskbound life.

A new phrase I’ve been hearing in the last many months is “sitting is the new smoking”. A sedentary life has become standard in a world of developing technology. Technological advances make it easy to experience the world through a screen, and the more technology progresses, the less active we become. It’s easy to fall into the same repetitive pattern day after day. As a writer, I spend most of my time sitting. My vocation doesn’t do much to endorse physical activity. Gone are the days where my job required me to be on my feet for hours at a time. Being inactive contributes to slowing metabolisms which depend on activity to burn energy. Sitting for a long time without regular activity can lead to weight gain, which, in turn, can lead to obesity, diabetes and a host of other medical issues – not to mention the extra pressure I’m putting on my back, hips and bottom.

Being inactive for a long stretch can make the disagreeable stiffness of arthritis more arduous. There are times I get up to get a drink or take a bathroom break, and I find I am just as stiff as when I wake in the morning. When I know I’ll be at my desk for a long period of time, I make an effort to break up my day as much as possible. I stand up every 20-30 minutes and do some stretching. Sometime during my day, I go outside for a walk. It helps keep my joints fluid, and increases my heart rate and circulation. In addition to the physical benefits, the fresh air and change of scene boosts my mood and stimulates my mental acuity. It also helps to drive away the fog of fatigue that can settle in during inactivity, and it reminds me to be grateful of my mobility. It can be challenging to find time in the middle of the workday to be active but little actions performed throughout the day can produce positive benefits.

Arthritis is enough of a trial to bear without opening the door to any further health problems. Taking several stretching or standing breaks throughout my day prevents me from becoming a sitting duck to the myriad of difficulties waiting in the thicket of our sedentary nature.




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  1. Carla Kienast on March 23, 2015 at 6:54 am

    Such words of wisdom! It is so easy to get involved in a project or television or whatever and forget to get up and move! I just spent several days in bed being sick and that amount of inactivity really affected how stiff I was/am. As one of my physical therapists said of her patients with RA, “Motion is lotion.” The more you move, the easier you move. (Now only if it were easy.)

    • J.G. Chayko on March 23, 2015 at 9:21 am

      I’m sorry to hear you were ill. I hope that you are better now. I love that saying ” Motion is lotion”. I can very involved in a writing project and forget to move around. I try to move several times during my day, but I agree that when you are sore, swollen and stiff it can be tough to get moving. Although, once I do, I feel better.

  2. Wren on March 26, 2015 at 5:56 pm

    An excellent and timely post, JG. Unfortunately, I’m one of those “sitting ducks,” too, and I know I need to change my ways or expect to pay for it in spades in the future. I wonder why making such a positive change is so hard to do, though? Any thoughts on that? Yes, sometimes I hurt too much to do very much moving around, but usually I can manage some–even quite a lot–if I force myself up off my bottom and make the effort.

    Thanks for posting this one. It’s the kind of brain-food I need. 😀

    • J.G. Chayko on March 27, 2015 at 2:46 pm

      I’m not sure making a positive change is hard to do – I think we get settled and comfortable in our routine and for me, I have a hard time breaking out of “the zone “. 🙂 I worry that if I interrupt my usual flow, I won’t get back to the same productivity. I do little changes so as not to disrupt my routine. Like all things, they will eventually become a part of my routine, and I won’t have to think to hard about them. 🙂

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About me

J.G. Chayko is a writer, actress, and international arthritis advocate who’s been involved in theatre for more than 30 years and has published poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction.