Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Twenty-three and a half hours, for knitters

Knitting is a deliciously sedentary activity - speaking from experience, it's even more so than writing.  As a writer, I will get up every twenty minutes or so and scrub down a wall or something, just to get away from the keyboard.  As a knitter?  I will ignore tumbleweed-sized dust bunnies just to get in another round of sock.  Sitting down to do it is, as far as I'm concerned, one of the best parts about knitting.
But sitting down all the time turns out to be bad for our health, something I've been hearing a lot lately and trying fairly successfully to ignore.  Until this particular 'don't sit so much' message penetrated the layers of wool on my mind, via a clever video from Dr. Mike Evans.

It's very, very powerful.  I mean, seriously: who can't limit their sitting time to just 23.5 hours a day?  Especially for those payoffs?


Then I watched a program about how choosing not to sit more often, just doing seemingly passive things like pacing while on the phone or standing up while on the subway, has a huge impact on your circulatory health.

Since then, I've been looking for more opportunities to keep moving.

1. This one is pretty obvious: I walk as much as I can.  Even though I have to drive places now, I'm still sufficiently cowardly about it to park in the most remote part of the grocery store lot, or in spaces two or more blocks from the heavier traffic of the place I want to be.  Back when I worked in an office, I was constantly sending documents to less-busy printers on other floors, and tearing up and down the stairs to get them and bring them back to my desk.  Today, my kitchen is set up with three different task stations and I walk between them often.  You know what I mean: there are lots of little opportunities to walk over the course of a day, if you're looking.

2. I take my knits with me when I shovel snow, as a reminder that there will be a reward for the time away from what I really want to be doing.

I guess this will be harder to do in spring and summer, when I'm gardening, but it'll do for now.

3. When I want to browse Ravelry for new patterns, or read my favourite blogs, or shop for gorgeous yarns online, I stand up to do it.  This is obviously easier if you have a laptop, and something to stack them on, but it's possible to get a standing-up desk if you want to get crazy with the idea.  I used to work with a man who had back problems and the company actually issued him one when he asked, so now I use a slice of kitchen counter to prep paperwork without a chair.

4. I take a little time every day to put away or organize some craft gear - it's amazing how often that involves climbing stairs or shifting position for a higher or lower shelf, not to mention how many great ideas I get whenever I look at that stuff.

5. When I do sit down to knit, it tends to be when I notice I have a (proportionally) large block of free time.  Instead of spending every minute of it working those needles, I make sure I get up at least once an hour. It might just be to stretch, or pick up a needle that dropped, but it's still getting up.

Tidying Up to Stay Up
In spite of #5 above, I've been taking maximum advantage of my current interest in not defaulting to sitting time every chance I get by listening to the audiobook of Unstuff Your Life, by Andrew Mellen.

This is one audiobook I would never, ever recommend to knit by, because Andrew keeps making you go and do things.  On the other hand, I listened to the chapter on decluttering the kitchen while I decluttered my kitchen, and having him talk away at me made me feel like I really did have to stay there and get the job done.  Now I have a slicker kitchen and, for that day anyway, I got in some serious Not Sitting time.

I am not mentioning this to brag about my newly tidy kitchen (even though it's awesome!) but because the book is so perfect for crafty people.

One phrase you hear Andrew repeat frequently is 'Like with Like'.  Well, I don't know about you, but I have gear for a lot of different crafts, and they are stored in pockets all over the house where I happened to have space at the time I put them away.  I try to keep this logical: for example, I only use beads when I knit, so all the beads are in the the yarn cupboard... along with the beaded appliques I would use for sewing if I ever remembered I had them. 

Not storing Like with Like is the biggest problem in my house, and now that I'm focused on it, I am astonished what a difference it makes.

Happiest example:

My fabric is mostly stealing space in a clothes closet near the desk where I have to keep my sewing machine, but I can't keep all of it there because that same closet is also home to clothes, emergency gifts, coins to roll, spare pillows, and other odds and ends that were convenient to throw in there.  By shifting some of those things to be with their personal Likes, I made a big enough gap to put in all the rest of the fabric, which was sitting in a bag on the floor of my storage room, blocking access to a craft shelf I set up there in an earlier burst of organizational enthusiasm.  And when I could finally reach the craft shelf, guess what I found?

Heart-shaped paperclips and Valentine stencils.  In advance of an upcoming Valentine's Day.

Ha!  Take that, clutter.

And best of all - doing all that?  I didn't sit down.

Okay, I'm off to do some more not sitting down, with a view to some serious knitfestings later.  Have a great day, and take care of yourself!


Leslie said...

Funny about the printer thing...I got rid of the printer at my desk so I would force myself to walk down our (longish) hall when I print things. We have a new secretary who brings things to us when we print them out...defeats the purpose and even though I've told her so, she still brings them down. Ah well.

Marianne said...

I just found out yesterday that I evidently have had 2 heart attacks!! Though I am not a "sitter" I have recently retired and do find that I spend way too much time on the computer. I have set up a game system in my room that I can use to do many types of exercise programs, even tennis and bowling. I guess yesterday was a major wake up call, I had thought I was in good health other than a blood disease and arthritis. I am going to show this video to my roommate, she really needs to see this!!!
Thank you!!! You do so inspire me, seem to know exactly when I need a push to get going, LOL.

Mary Keenan said...

Omigosh Marianne, what a scare!! It's scary how invisible a heart attack can be - but now that you know you can be on guard and minimize the risks. Thank goodness you found out!