What can it be that makes blogging bad for your health? Or rather, is the way that we work when blogging bad for our health?
The idealized image of the blogger, setting their own hours and working from a laptop on sun-kissed beaches is alluring.
Not having to deal with the stress of traffic or choking pollution on the daily commute is surely better for us. Does being able to spend more time with our families and engaging in our own hobbies not mean a better quality of life?
Certainly these are benefits but there are also many trade-offs which can impact your health or wellbeing when you become a full-time blogger.
In this post I will try to answer the question: Is blogging bad for your health?
Sitting on your backside
We’ve all seen the pretty images of bloggers conducting their working life from their laptops. However, they’re invariably sitting down. Whether the laptop is placed on a desk with the writer sat in a chair or on the blogger’s lap, the recurring theme is that it’s a sitting-down job. The chances are, if you’re blogging, you’ll be writing from a laptop at least some of the time. The other common option is a desktop computer which, used conventionally, also means sitting down.
Sitting down for long periods isn’t good for your health. In fact, numerous studies have shown that sitting down for a days work can seriously harm your long term health.
Health Risks of Sitting Down to Work
- Heart disease
- Type 2 Diabetes
These risks aren’t completely mitigated by getting up and regularly exercising. So it’s possible that sitting makes blogging bad for your health.
The obvious solution is to work while standing up. This however, means your laptop isn’t going to be anywhere near as convenient as when sitting. Laptop computers couple the screen to the keyboard in close proximity. This is fine if you’re sat down and the laptop is in your lap or on the desk in front of you.
Stand up Blogger
If you want to use a laptop while standing up, there is a problem.
You can place your laptop on a normal-height desk in front of you and discover the first issue. It’s at the wrong height for any kind of use if you’re standing up. Your hands are too low, your fingers dangling over the keys. Your chin nearly on your chest to see the screen.
Placing a box on the table to elevate the laptop 6-8 inches should move the keyboard to a height for comfortable keyboard use. The height of the screen at this point is still too low. With the screen tilted back, you can see it clearly but your head is tilted down. I’ll bet that after a few minutes working like that, you’ll feel the strain on your neck muscles. Not recommended at all.
A few more boxes will move the laptop up to just below eye-level (Don’t drop your laptop!). Now more comfortable for your neck as you now look directly at the screen, your hands and forearms are raised up. Tom Cruise made working with a computer, arms outstretched in front look easy in Minority Report. In reality, if you try working like that for a short period, you will discover the meaning of ‘gorilla arm‘.
So, if your laptop won’t work too well standing up, what will?
The common desktop computer arrangement (on a desk) has the same issues. What is needed is a purpose built standing desk.
Standing desks are much taller than normal desks and often adjustable in height to suit different users. A standing desk will allow the keyboard and mouse to be placed at the optimum height. The hands and arms will not be unduly stressed. A monitor arm or raised shelf will allow the screen to be placed just below eye level.
So, a desktop computer with a standing desk allows you to boost your health and adopt a good posture. It may also make you look like a 19th century clerk from a Dickens novel 😉 Those dreams of sitting on a beach seem a long way off.
There’s a possibility of using a wireless keyboard with your laptop. If you’re traveling, a full-size desktop (and a standing desk) is out of the question. You can perch your laptop on some item of furniture or a shelf. A wireless keyboard can then be placed as appropriate for your hands. This gives an approximation of the positioning of standing desk when you’re out and about.
Of course, when using a wireless keyboard, your laptop’s own keyboard becomes redundant. That’s all just useless weight you’re carrying on your blogging travels.
I’m thinking that the ideal solution may be some kind of tablet computer and a wireless keyboard. I’ll be experimenting along these lines in the near future and will let you know how that goes!
Get more excercise
While it seems excercise alone can’t completely mitigate the harm done by sitting for long periods, it *is* seriously beneficial for your overall health. I personally aim to spend as much time engaging in physical activity as I do writing.
That’s right, if I spend one-hour writing (and sittting) then I want to spend at least one hour exercising. The act of just getting up and going for a walk isn’t wasted time from a blogging perspective either. I can work through a blog post in my head as I walk, ready for the keyboard when I get back.
I’ll admit, it’s not easy to get that much excercise, walking alone won’t cut it so you need hobbies and sports to make up the difference.
The personal life experiences I have while I’m out enjoying hobbies and sports provide inspiration for my content too so it’s a win-win situation.
So is blogging bad for your health?
The answer seems to be it can be if you don’t consider that the act of typing at a computer keyboard can have significant impact on your general health. Using mitigation strategies can help to reduce the risks involved in what is by nature sedentary working.
An honest footnote
I wrote the entirety of this post while sitting at my desk. I hope to replace the desk soon with a standing/semi standing arrangement.
Now I’m going for a walk 😉
Good luck and stay healthy!