There’s an article in the New York Times today that begins: “Your chair is your enemy.” The article is entitled “Stand While You Read This!” and you should definitely read it if you are a dedicated musician. Because disciplined, dedicated musicians spend a lot of time in the practice room applying butt to chair while they put in the long hours necessary to master and maintain their art. And add to that all the time we spend at computers. Or sitting in front of the TV (not many here for dedicated musicians). It adds up, and it’s not good.
I think it is and was obvious to all of us without reading the article that sitting in a chair for long hours every day is not good for you. But the article bears worse news: you can still suffer health problems and disease from too much inactivity (i.e. the chair) – even if you exercise regularly (!!!!!). Yikes!
That’s a shocker.
So what do we do??!!! If exercise doesn’t counter the effects of a lot of sitting, what’s the answer?
The article names names and goes into scientific detail on how and why all the sitting is bad for you. It also suggests ways to counteract the potential harm of too much sitting:
•Take many short breaks. Stand up. Stretch. Walk down the hall and back.
•Move more whenever you can: take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator. Walk or bicycle to work instead of drive. Rig your TV to work only when you’re pedaling an exercise bike, or watch TV from a rocking chair. Replace your sit-down desk with a stand-up desk + treadmill. Replace your office chair with a therapy ball. Fidget.
•Practice standing up. And maybe standing up, strolling a bit.
It would also be a good idea to add frequent exercises to your practice that can be done in a restricted space (like a practice room):
•Jump an imaginary rope. You can jump a lot of rope in one minute…
•Push-ups – on the floor or against a desk, piano, or piano bench, etc.
•Squats. All the way down and back up. For a little extra, add a jump when you come up.
•Have a dumbbell or two around to do curls, presses, or any number of arm exercises.
•Jumping jacks. Or just jump.
•Isometrics – popular in bygone decades, not mentioned much anymore, but easy to do: pit one muscle against another (e.g. each arm/hand pushes in the opposite direction. Or legs. Or arms/legs. Etc.). You don’t need space or equipment for this; also good for long plane flights.
The moral is: move it, musicians!