Good Advice for People Who Sit

“Remember, it’s good to get up every so often, anyway. Sitting for more than twenty or thirty minutes at a time compresses the discs in the vertebrae and brings on early arthritis. Take care of your health. Move around. Go for walks. Enjoy your life.”
Barbara DeMarco-Barrett, from what might be my favorite book on writing ever, Pen on Fire. I’m seriously obsessed with this book right now. I first wrote about it here.

This is good advice for all of us, not just writers. I sit too much. And now I’m off for a stretch.


  1. Hi Kass! Thanks! I need to remind myself too, when I read this section in Barbara's book, I thought it might be helpful to write a little something. I had no idea about the compression of dicscs in the back and the resulting onset of early arthritis. Here's to healthy joints!

  2. Alanna, it's probable that some people suffer early arthritis from sitting a lot; but it's not universal by any means. I've worked at sitting jobs for many, many years and did not move around much; no arthritis. I'm sure others can say the same thing. I walk when I can, do yoga a bit. I think regular moving around may be better for the mind and disposition than the discs.

  3. Hi June! Thanks for stopping by and for your comment! I'm so glad to hear that! I enjoy walking and yoga, also! Moving around is good, period, I think, for all sorts of our issues, whether they be physical, mental, and creative. Many writers, like Thrity Umrigar (I attended her book discussion and signing last Sunday and she talked about this) go for walks when working on a book. Thrity writes in her head while she walks, and I've read about many writers who go for walks when they are stuck and it helps to solve their writing problems and get the words flowing again.
    The quote at the beginning of this blog post is the last paragraph of the chapter titled “Walk! Refresh! Have Fun!” from Pen on Fire. I definitely wasn't trying to imply that this was a universal cause and effect (sit for too many hours and you'll get arthritis early), and I don't believe Barbara DeMarco-Barrett was either. I can see how this paragraph on its own, without the context of the rest of the chapter, can seem like it is implying just that. I think Barbara was just trying to make the point that writers should remember to get up and move around and have fun, which is good not only for our bodies, but also, as you say, for our minds and dispositions. Thanks again for your comment; I greatly appreciate it, June!

  4. Thanks for your long comment. I often walk if I'm stuck on something [tho' lying in bed early in the morning serves the same purpose]. It WAS the lack of context that was the problem, I'm sure. I read so much medical hocum, as most of us do, that I can't help react. I will look for the book when I'm next in a book store [which occurs frequently].

  5. Hi June! Thanks for stopping back and for your comment! Napping also helps me when I'm stuck, wish I could do more of that. 😉 I looked back at that chapter as I wrote to you and a lot of it was about walking to solve writing problems. I agree, there's too much medical hocum, and I don't blame you for reacting! My father has arthritis and I have some early joint problems myself, so I think that's why I reacted to it, but without the context it didn't look quite the way I wanted it to look, but that's ok because now we're having this interesting discussion! I highly recommend this book, I'm glad you're going to look for it! I think you'll really enjoy it! Thanks again, June, and have a great day and weekend!

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