Let’s face it. The past year has turned many of us into little more than couch potatoes. Staying locked in 24-7 meant eating round-the-clock, watching loads of Netflix, and spending way too much time on social media.
If you happen to be into the business of music – writing lyrics, composing, or carrying out music production tasks, you probably spent even more time sitting down to work. And, unless you happen to be an ultra-disciplined workout freak, you have likely put on a pound – or a few.
But that’s the least of your worries. A sedentary lifestyle is one that has long been linked to bad health. Not to alarm you or anything, but scientific research has found that sitting down for prolonged periods of time is linked to a number of non-communicable diseases, including diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease. Yikes!
For non-performing musicians, keeping active is especially important, since you will spend much of your time being immobile. Whether you are writing a song, composing a melody, or mixing a track, hours may pass with you stuck in one spot before you even get up to stretch your legs. It is also pretty easy to lose track of time when you are doing something fun like making music. In addition, the older you get, the higher the need for you to get moving instead of being sedentary all the time.
So, how can you ensure you remain active and reduce sedentary time as a music creator?
Take regular breaks
Having a ton of tracks you want to edit or setting a goal for a certain amount of lyrics per day might cause you to feel you should stay in one spot until you are done. However, health professionals agree that little physical movement over a prolonged period of time can cause the metabolism to become dysfunctional and have a negative effect on blood sugar regulation. To significantly reduce the chances of any of that happening, you want to make sure you give yourself short breaks to get moving. Medical experts suggest getting up and moving around for at least 2 – 3 minutes for every 30 minutes to one hour of sitting. In addition to breaking up the time spent inactive, this is a great way to also re-focus when you are working on something that takes a lot of concentration.
The benefits of exercise have been well documented over the years. When it comes on to musicians, taking time out to exercise can enhance your musical capacity, especially if you also perform or play an instrument. Pianists, for example, may develop problems with posture if they routinely spend a lot of time sitting in front of the instrument for extended periods. The same applies if a lot of hours are spent poring over a lyrics notebook or seated in front of a computer while editing audio. Indulging in even light aerobics for 30 minutes to one hour each day can reverse possible negative effects relating to posture or circulation issues. High intensity exercise routines for 20 minutes can also be helpful. What’s more, regularly exercising can contribute to sharper thinking and improved coordination, both of which are beneficial when songwriting, playing instruments, or carrying out music production tasks.
Not inclined to follow exercise routines or going to the gym? Walking can be just as beneficial. A brisk walk can lead to strengthened heart and lungs, reduced risk of heart disease, relieving of muscle stiffness and joint pains, stronger bones, and much more. Moreover, walking happens to be a low-impact form of exercise, so it is ideal for people with weak joints or aggravating foot conditions such as plantar fasciitis. Finally, like exercise, walking helps improve mental clarity and focus.
Work standing up
You don’t have to work in an office to use desks and office chairs. In fact, it is good practice to create a home office space that helps you to focus on what you are doing. Also, instead of sitting all the time on your sofa or bean bag, you can try standing up when working. Research shows that standing up 15 – 30 minutes out of every hour you are working could help counteract the effects of sedentary behavior. In addition to helping you burn calories, the practice could reduce the chances of developing back pain, which is often associated with sitting down for long periods. To get into the habit of standing up while working, you can invest in a sit-stand desk, which can be adjusted for height.
Ditch the elevator whenever possible
If you live in an apartment building where you have to take the stairs or elevator, try to choose the stairs as much as possible. This is another way to get some needed exercise in, especially on days when you are not able to go for that walk or get on the treadmill.
Limit screen time
Activities such as watching Netflix, scrolling social media feeds, and playing video games are often listed as the top culprits perpetuating sedentary behavior. The thing is, these pastimes can be good for mental breaks, especially when you have been working on a musical project for a long time. But they are highly addictive and often not only keep you sitting down for lengthy periods, but can also affect your productivity as a musician. To minimize the effect of screen time, it is best to schedule it in your day. Write down the times you will be working for, as well as the times you will spend checking your profiles or watching TV. Limiting total screen time each day to no more than two hours will allow you to still get work done and find time for physical activity such as exercising.
Get adequate rest
Sleeping might seem unassociated with sedentary lifestyles. However, lack of sleep can actually make you feel tired and demotivated, causing you to want to spend more time sitting down instead of getting up and moving around. In addition, getting adequate sleep comes with its own set of benefits. For instance, getting consistently restful sleep can boost your capacity for exercise and strengthen your immune system, as well as assist you with being your best self as a music creator.
Becoming better as a musician is not only about practicing and strengthening your music skills. It is also about keeping healthy, and this is where staying active comes in.