On the days when I’m the busiest, I sit a lot. As a freelancer, it’s way more than I’d be in my seat if I worked in an office.
I don’t have to get up to walk to meetings. I don’t have anyone to wander over and talk to when I need a break. I sit to work, to talk, to eat my lunch. There are days when my FitBit barely squeaks over 5,000 steps because all the walking I’ve done is during my 30 minutes on the treadmill.
It’s not good to sit this much, but as a freelancer, it’s up to you to motivate yourself, and figure out ways to keep the blood pumping. In other words…MOVE.
Stop all the sitting
I promise it isn't just me telling you to get off your butt once in a while. WebMD tells you to do it too.
Sitting to much is bad for your health because it can:
- Increase your risk for heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and high blood pressure
- Shorten your lifespan (even if you exercise every day)
- Reverse the positive effects of your daily workout
- Cause you to get a blood clot or varicose veins
- Cause back pain
- Weaken your bones, leading to osteoporosis if you’re older
Even though you’re productive when sitting, it’s not productive for your health to forget to get up and move. Even if you have to schedule time during the day to walk around your house, do it. Don’t let being a freelancer mean you have a totally sedentary lifestyle.
Get up and go
It’s easier than you think to find ways to incorporate movement into your day. But, perhaps the best way is to get outside. The combination of fresh air and moving around helps clear your mind, gives you a good dose of Vitamin D, and gets your legs pumping.
I’ve clocked about a 15-minute round-trip walk in my neighborhood that I do when the weather is nice. It’s not so long that I feel like I lose momentum on my work, but it’s long enough to make me feel like I've made an effort.
When the weather isn’t nice, you can set a step goal for around your house and invent a route. I have this winding path that takes me around my kitchen island, across the living room, and then up and down the stairs to my basement. I’ll even add in a walk from one end of my house to the other just to achieve 200-300 steps per break.
Another sort of ingenious way to encourage movement is to stay hydrated. If you don’t see the connection, give it a try. Your extra trips to the bathroom will serve you greatly when adding up the number of minutes you moved around today. It doesn’t have to be water, although that’s best. I like iced tea as an afternoon beverage and it does the trick beautifully.
My own tricks for moving around
While I have a variety of tricks for moving around, some even mentioned above, here are my favorites that help me get up and stay up long enough to take a real break from my desk, its chair, and my screen.
- Run an errand every day — I may have three errands to run in a week that I know of in advance. It’s very easy to just go out and do them all at once, but by breaking them up to one per day, I ensure I’m not just sitting at my desk working all the time. I have a dedicated reason to get up and move around. I also make sure to park far away from my destination to get those extra steps in the parking lot.
- Do laundry during work hours — I know, everyone hates laundry, but you stand the whole time you do it. Doing one load per day, during work hours, means getting up to put the clothes in the washer, getting up again to move them to dryer, and getting up a final time to fold everything and put it away. You’re moving.
- Don’t do everything efficiently — Sometimes, when I feel like I’m sitting way too much, I’ll take a simple task and make it more complicated. Let’s say I need to take three things down to the basement. Instead of carrying them all at once, I’ll take one thing down at a time just to up my movement. It’s a little silly, but it works.
- Do a lap and play a song — For times when I just can’t figure out a reason to get up and move about, I turn to music. I play one song and remain standing, dancing, and moving until it’s over. This also helps me think better when I sit down, so even though I may look a little silly bopping all over my house, it works.
- Phone a friend — I like to walk around when I’m on the phone. I don’t do this for business calls since I need to take notes, but a call to a friend can get me up and moving the whole time we chat. While I don’t always have time to phone a friend, it’s a great little cheat to get out of my chair.
The ultimate motivator
When you start getting bored of all your movement tricks, nothing motivates more than having a goal to meet. This is easiest to accomplish with a fitness tracker. Having a daily step goal and checking in on it throughout the day will help drive you toward moving about.
I realized that 10,000 steps a day, on average, was more than I could handle, but I can do 8,300 if I work at it. Having my watch constantly reminding me how far behind I am does wonders when it comes to pacing around my house. It even encourages me to add in one extra errand just to have that walk from the parking lot to up my numbers.
I don’t get down on myself if I don’t meet my step goal every day, but it’s nice to have a benchmark to look at to know when I’m sitting too much, even if I’m getting a lot of work done.
On the move
Being able to walk away from my desk, even for short breaks, is a huge perk of freelancing. I set my own hours and can decide how I parse out my day. Even though it’s not always easy to interrupt my work with breaks, I know I’m benefitting from every step. The days where I forget to get up and move around, I feel different than when I do. So, work some movement into your daily routine fellow freelancers. You won’t be disappointed.