As an INFJ, I love, love, love working from home, but doing so requires the establishment of healthy writing habits. As soon as I made the switch to a home office, I started seeing this annoying little phrase everywhere I looked: “sitting is the new smoking.”
And I believe it. I’ve always tried to be an active person, but when I went from teaching on my feet at the front of a classroom to teaching online at a desk all day, I noticed the difference immediately, especially since my “other job”—writing novels—also requires staring at a screen from a seated position for hours on end. And it wasn’t just weight gain I was worried about – my entire body hurt. Back, shoulders, wrists, legs – the constant aches made me feel like I was in my nineties instead of my thirties, and assured me that drastic changes needed to be made if this working-from-home gig was going to be sustainable.
A few months back I mentioned an awesome Christmas gift I received from my parents: a laptop desk…on an exercise bike. Several readers asked me to post a review after I had a chance to use the bike for a few months, so here it is:
Overall, I love it. If you work from home and spend a lot of time on your computer, the FitDesk is definitely worth the investment. Here’s why:
- The FitDesk forces you to sit in a position that is good for your back and lessens tension in the neck and shoulders. That, along with the constant leg movement, has already lessened my aches and pains considerably. For me, this benefit alone makes it worth the $300 bucks.
- It’s comfortable and high-quality, which makes me think I’ll be able to use it for many years to come. I usually spend between 2 and 5 hours on the FitDesk and only after that point does the bike seat start to make by butt go numb. If you do a few hours on and then a few hours off, this isn’t an issue.
- You can change the tension on the wheel, depending on how challenging you want the pedaling to be. When I’m in video or phone meetings, I crank that baby up and try to pedal as hard as I can (so long as I’m not expected to talk), but I keep the wheel at a lower tension when I’m doing things like editing my novel, grading assignments, or checking email. However, when I’m doing something that requires me to think a little more deeply, I do find it difficult to keep the momentum going…
…which brings me to the major downsides of the FitDesk (though I don’t find it that big of a deal):
- I can’t really write creatively while on the bike. In other words, I can’t write brand new material. Maybe it’s just me, but for some reason when I’m working on a story, I get so lost in this imaginary world that I have trouble doing two things at once. When I’ve tried working on my novel while on the FitDesk, at some point I’ll look down and notice that my legs have stopped moving. It’s like that little exercise we all did as kids: trying to pat our heads and rub our tummies at the same time. I’m sure there are people out there who are more coordinated than I am, but my brain apparently finds it challenging to create and pedal at the same time. That said, I have no problem pedaling while doing less creative tasks like email, grading, and even editing my novel, which means I still spend a lot of time on the bike.
- The only other negative thing about the FitDesk is that I can’t seem to get the speedometer that comes with the bike to work. It would be nice to know how far I’m pedaling each day, as well as how many calories I’m burning, so I’ll need to call the company’s customer service team at some point.
I am happy with my purchase, but I don’t think the FitDesk is an adequate substitute for daily exercise. In the three months I’ve been using it, my legs have started to feel more toned and I’ve probably lost a few pounds, but most of the time when I’m working on the FitDesk, I’m not pedaling hard enough to really sweat, so I don’t count the time spent on it as high-intensity, cardiovascular exercise. This means I still try to fit in a run or a weight-lifting session most days of the week.
In conclusion, I don’t think the FitDesk is going to melt the pounds away on its own if that’s what you’re after, but it will likely help most people keep off the additional weight they’d gain from a sedentary desk job. Most importantly, my body feels so much better than it did a few months ago, and that alone makes it a worthwhile purchase and a great way to break up the time spent at a normal desk.
Other Tips for Staying Healthy & Fit
- Get outside every day. A lot of the writers I know (myself included) have a more melancholic temperament (to use a medieval classification) and spend a lot of time in their own heads, so I find it vital to break up the time in la-la land with a walk or jog. The fresh air, sunshine, and movement are always energizing, and I get many of my best writing ideas out on long walks.
- Start the day with a green smoothie. I can’t do anything (including speak to other humans) until I have a cup of coffee in me, but I’m not very good at eating enough raw vegetables. An easy way to add more of that beloved kale to your diet is with a green smoothie. My favorite blender combination is half a frozen banana, a handful or spinach/kale, mixed frozen berries, a teaspoon of flax seed, all mixed with almond or coconut milk.
- Stick to a Screen Sabbath. I try to avoid screens, or at least my laptop, one day each week so that my eyes can have a break. I also have a daily tea time ritual in the afternoons that gives me a chance to get off the computer for 30 minutes to an hour to read a physical book.
What do you do to stay healthy when you work at a desk all day?