Whether you’re a full-time, part-time, or recreational podcaster, chances are you spend a lot of your time sitting down. Whether it’s writing your amazing content, recording your show, doing interviews, or editing your audio to create the final masterpiece, all of this requires you to be pretty stationary, and, most likely, hunched over a keyboard or microphone. And while you love what you do, research shows that your body may not be such a big fan of the sedentary nature of podcasting. Studies have shown that sitting stationary for large portions of time can lead to reduced muscle strength and weaker bones, inflammation, weight gain, and a weakened immune system.¹ There is also evidence that the simple act of sitting in front of our computers for too long can cause muscular strains or overuse injuries, such as carpal tunnel or tendonitis! Yup! We could be injuring ourselves just because we’re sitting stationary for too long! And if that’s not enough to make us sit up and take notice of the hazards of sitting still, some studies have also indicated that all this sitting and staring at screens all day may be detrimental to our mental health.² Yikes! Who knew podcasting was so dangerous?! But have no fear! We’ve got some great strategies to ensure your mind and body stay in tip-top shape. They’re the perfect remedy to keep you healthy and happy so you can keep on doing all that goes into creating your amazing show.
1. Take Regular Breaks
Some of the tasks involved in creating a podcast require large portions of time. Recording, editing, and even researching, for example, can have you stuck at a desk for extended periods. So one of the easiest ways we can counteract the negative effects of sitting still is simply to take regular breaks. Not only will regular breaks help keep your focus levels high, but they can also help refresh your energy after a long stretch of recording or editing. To help build this habit, set a timer, or use an alarm at set intervals to remind you to take a break. Use this time to stretch a little, refill your water bottle, or have a healthy snack (we’ll cover these points in more detail further down our list), and you’ll feel refreshed and rejuvenated to keep going, and you’ll have renewed energy to help keep you focused and on-task for your next activity.
2. Practice Good Posture
While you’re sitting writing drafting outlines, reaching out to potential guests, or as you prepare for another great recording, make sure you’re practicing good sitting posture. Bad posture plays a huge role in the aches and pains we often experience at the end of the day, but with a few minor adjustments, these could be a thing of the past. First up, make sure you’re keeping your feet on the ground or on a footrest. Try and avoid crossing your legs and ankles as this can inhibit blood circulation. Sit up straight, keep your shoulders relaxed, and you should begin to feel that tension melt away! If you are prone to backache or simply want to improve your sitting posture, you could consider swapping your desk chair for a large exercise ball. These are a great way to improve your posture and overall balance, but it will also help work your core muscles, all while you’re working on your next episode.
3. Stand Whenever Possible
Another simple, yet super effective, strategy to counteract a sedentary lifestyle is to make sure you stand wherever possible. Standing can improve your circulation, prevent or ease digestive issues, and can even boost your energy levels.³ Sure, you’re getting up to use the restroom, brew a cup of coffee, or to fix yourself a snack – and that’s definitely helpful – but you also need to be intentional about standing. Think of tasks you can do out of your seat, such as long-distance interviews with your guests, phone calls, or even some of your editing tasks. If you want to take this a step further, you could invest in a standing desk. These make it easy to incorporate standing into your workday, and help you reap all the benefits a little standing brings to your mind and body. Remember, you don’t have to stand the whole day, but you do need to intentionally incorporate standing into your daily routine.
4. Embrace Ergonomics
Ergonomics is “an applied science concerned with designing and arranging things people use so that the people and things interact most efficiently and safely.”⁴ Now, we’re not suggesting you go out and get a degree in the subject, but we are suggesting you do a little study of your work environment to see where a little applied ergonomics could make a big difference to your overall wellbeing. You could start by checking that the height of your chair in relation to your desk is correct, that your chair provides as much support as possible, and that you get enough light in your workspace. If you’re recording for extended periods, you should check the height of the chair to the sweet spot of your microphone so you’re not having to hunch over the mic. When you’re doing your editing or research, make sure that your computer screen is the optimal level and at the right angle to prevent any strain.
Fun fact: According to the American Optometric Association, your computer screen should be 15 to 20 degrees below eye level (about 4 or 5 inches) as measured from the center of the screen and 20 to 28 inches from the eyes.⁵
5. Give Your Eyes A Break
Podcasting involves a lot of screen time. Editing, researching, or just searching cyberspace for your next great listen requires that your eyes and your screens meet for extended periods. You’ve no doubt noticed that increased exposure to your screens in all forms has to lead to a marked decrease in the optimal functioning of your eyes. If they’re burning, itchy, or just plain sore at the end of the day, chances are high that damage is being done. But thankfully, there are ways to reduce and, to some extent, prevent the negative effects of prolonged screen time. One of the best ways to do this is to simply take regular breaks from your screens. These breaks allow your eyes to refocus and readjust, which can help ease the strain. You could also consider doing some eye exercises during these breaks. Now, don’t go rolling your eyes at me, it’s true! Your eyes do need exercise! The American Optometric Association recommends looking away from your screen or simply closing your eyes for a few seconds at least once every 20 minutes, and taking at least a 15-minute break for every two hours you spend staring at your screen. During these longer breaks, they recommend doing some eye exercises to get your eyes to refocus and the eye muscles to relax.
You can find some examples of eye exercises you can try here.
Pro Tip #1: To ease eye strain, try adjusting the light settings of your computer screen. Aim to get the brightness of your screen to match that of your workspace. That way, your eyes don’t have to work so hard to adjust to the different light sources, which is a prominent cause of computer-related eye problems.
Pro Tip #2: Another easy way to help reduce eye strain is to place a UV and blue light filter on your screen or to get yourself a pair of anti-blue light glasses. These help filter out that pesky blue light that does the damage to our eyes. If you already wear glasses, you can ask your optometrist to apply an anti-blue light filter to your lenses. If you’re editing for long hours or just are exposed to a lot of screen time during the day, either of these will be a great help!
6. Stay Hydrated
Another key strategy to keeping you healthy and happy at your desk is making sure you stay hydrated. Water aids circulation, delivers much-needed nutrients throughout the body, and flushes out unwanted toxins, and these are just some of the many reasons why health professionals promote the drinking of water. They may not agree on exactly how much, but the fact remains that you definitely need to incorporate hydration in your plan to stay healthy and happy as you podcast away. An easy way to do this is to keep a water bottle at your desk to sip on throughout the day. You could even get creative and add some fruit or herbs to your water, or go wild with a combination of the two! As an added bonus, drinking plenty of water will force you to take more breaks and get you up and about, either to refill or use the restroom, helping you tick off two strategies with one simple move.
7. Stretch At Your Desk
Our last strategy to help reverse the effects of sitting is to do some stretching while you’re at your desk. It might sound a little strange and you may feel a little silly at first, but as soon as you experience the perks of a little – dare I say it – deskercise, there’ll be no going back! There’s a whole host of exercises and stretches you can do without even leaving your chair! From your triceps to your torso, your legs to your lats, there are many options of stretches you can incorporate into your daily routine to keep your muscles loose and your body strong. So while you’re waiting for your audio to render, when you’re taking a break from writing stand-out content, or you’re simply between tasks, stretching is a great way to improve your overall physical and mental health.
If you need a little help getting started, check out this post for some great examples of stretches you can do from the comfort of your desk chair.
If you’re in the podcasting industry, whether you are a podcast host, an editor, a marketer, or a content creator, you’re going to spend a lot of time sitting down. Many of us sit at our desk all day, not to mention the time spent sitting during our commute or trips to the grocery store, and, perhaps now more than ever, sitting staring at our screens as we watch our latest Netflix binge. To put this into facts and figures, research has discovered that the amount of time in a day the average person spends sitting is 12 hours!⁶ That figure is quite astonishing! The nature of podcasting is pretty sedentary, so you’re going to need a solid game plan to help keep you healthy and happy whilst at your desk. Put some of these strategies into motion and you’ll find they’ll keep you totally upbeat and feeling on top of the world all while you’re sitting down.
1. Get Healthy Stay Healthy: https://www.gethealthystayhealthy.com/articles/is-sitting-behind-your-desk-bad-for-your-health
2. Association for Psychological Science: https://www.psychologicalscience.org/news/minds-business/more-bad-news-about-sitting-it-may-harm-workers-mental-health.html
3. Psychology Today: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-power-rest/201803/should-we-stand-work
4. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ergonomics
5. American Optometric Association: https://www.aoa.org/patients-and-public/caring-for-your-vision/protecting-your-vision/computer-vision-syndrome
6. JUSTSTAND.ORG: https://www.juststand.org/the-facts/