The Healthy Artist: Simple Ways to Stay That Way

Over the past few weeks I have been posting articles to help improve the studio health and well being of my fellow artists. Continuing on with this theme, I asked my good Twitter friend,  social media’s favorite fitness guru, Joyce Cherrier to give us some easy, healthy lifestyle advice for the busy artist.

Joyce is a specialist in sport’s conditioning and helping people create healthy lifestyles. A lot of my artist friends work long, obsessive hours without taking the proper time for themselves to eat, drink and exercise. Joyce shares some easy fix tips to help.

Guest author & fitness specialist: Joyce Cherrier

I think every kind of work and hobby comes with its own set of health challenges. Artists are no different. Many hours are spent doing what you love. My personal philosophy has always been to find a way to do what you love forever. It’s fine to look great in your jeans, but it’s even better to make sure you’re healthy from the inside out.

Fit looking Joyce Cherrier windsurfing

When a doctor told me that after years of aerial tricks while windsurfing, I would likely suffer in the future with an arthritic spine, thanks Doc, instead of taking up scrap-booking I began to do yoga and found it helped me tremendously. I tried to do what I could to make sure I could be as active as I could despite what Dr. Doom said.

And artsy people are no different. (Except for maybe the aerial acrobatics part.) So what health issues should you address as an artist?

Along with fitting in daily exercise, focus on nutrition. Whenever you’re focused on a task, time can pass quickly; and before you realize it, you’ve skipped eating or drinking for long periods of time. That’s not healthy!

Easy Fix:

  • Always fill your glass and water bottle before starting: Even better, keep a container that holds at least a half gallon of water which you can refill conveniently.
  • Keep healthy snacks available: Keep snacks like nuts and seeds available. But don’t place the whole bag next to you to avoid mindless overeating. Raw veggies are also a great snack and provide fiber too. So important for digestion for people that sit for long periods of time.
  • Keep your protein intake up and it will help you stay energized and alert, and by avoiding sugar you’ll save yourself from a work-halting sugar crash
  • The Healthy Workspace

Like many people who spend much of their day in front of a computer, artists face the same sedentary challenges. In the British Journal of Sports Medicine studies have suggested that prolonged bouts of sitting time and lack of whole-body muscular movement are strongly associated with obesity, abnormal glucose metabolism, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk, and cancer, as well as total mortality independent of moderate to vigorous-intensity physical activity.

That’s bad news for those of us that sit, including artists. In the past, the thinking was if you are physically active other times of the day you make up for the sitting time, but now experts are saying that’s not the case.

Easy fix:

  • Use a resistance ball: One of the best ways to get in movement throughout your day while sitting is sitting on a resistance ball. Constantly readjusting to keep yourself balanced on the ball, the muscles of the core, pelvis, hips, and legs are being engaged. Many people report they have reduced back pain too. At first you might find you can only use for a few minutes at a time, but over time try to lengthen the time you spend sitting on the ball. A resistance ball is a favorite to use in an exercise program too, so it’s a great purchase.

Set a timer: Time flies when you’re focused, and before you know it you’ve been sitting for 3 hours. Set a timer to make sure you get up and move around every 20 minutes or so. Get up, move around, and stand and do a reach-for-the-sky stretch. Make a point of scheduled breaks. They don’t have to be long. A great time to fill the water glass to make sure not to forget to hydrate!

Many artists like Lori stand when creating and that poses a different set of concerns.

The lack of position choices causes the health problems. Muscles are continually at work to keep you upright, but standing motionless causes a lack of blood flow to the muscles being used. Lack of blood flow causes fatigue in the working muscles. It also can cause problems with vein inflammation. The result over time can be varicose veins. Joints in the feet, knees, hips, and spine become locked in a prolonged standing position and this can contribute to damage of tendons and ligaments.

Easy fix:

  • Change your workstation: Having options in your work space allows for changes in body position which will help with blood flow and give your joints a break. Use a small foot rest to use to shift your weight. If working on a particular part of your art that might cause you to have your arm in one position for a long period, try to use something to support your arm to help curb any fatiguing of your arm and neck.
  • Keep a stool nearby: Have a stool that will help you stay in your favored working position but also allow you rest. Just a bit of support can help take a tremendous amount of stress off muscles and joints. Remember that it’s important to position yourself close to the working area and face your work as straight-on as possible to avoid bending and stooping.

Good health will allow you to keep doing what you love for many years to come. Some simple planning is all it takes to make sure you’re staying healthy while doing what you love!

*****

The fabulous Joyce Cherrier

Joyce Cherrie surfed, skim-boarded, professionally windsurfed, was a personal trainer, managed a gym, and co-owned a health-food store. Now she is a mom, wife, bass-player bass-player and slightly obsessive health nut (I mean ‘nut’ in the best sense of the word) studying to be a specialist in sport’s conditioning and helping people to create a healthy lifestyle by eating well and encouraging physical activity. After over 25 years in sports and fitness, Joyce knows what works!

She was recently feature in the Huffington Post article, 16 Health Experts to Check out on Twitter and the Ladies Home Journal article, Ladies we Love. Joyce is also a sista’ to me on the Top 75 Badass Women of Twitter! Thank you for sharing your great advice with us Joyce! (((Hugs))) ~Lori

Please be sure and check out her blog, About Freaking Fitness

10 Helpful Ways to Overcome Spring Fever in the Art Studio

Artistic Temperament: What to Do When it Strikes!

How to Jump-Start Your Art Career

10 Ways to Overcome Mental Blocks & Boost Creativity

6 Tips for a Stress-Free Sketchbook

Purify the Air in Your Studio or Office with House Plants!

How to Build a Pochade Box from a Cigar Box

PS. It is fun to meet on Facebook and Twitter! ~Lori (or if you want to see my paintings)

 


About Lori McNee

Lori McNee is a professional artist who specializes in still life, and landscape oil paintings. She is an exhibiting member of Oil Painters of America, Plein Air Painters of Idaho, serves on the Plein Air Mag Board of Advisors, and is an Artist Ambassador to Arches/Canson/Royal Talens. As the owner of FineArtTips.com, Lori blogs about fine art tips, marketing, and social media advice for the aspiring and professional artist. As a social media influencer, Lori ranks as one of the Top 100 Most Powerful Women on Twitter, has been featured in the Wall Street Journal and named a #TwitterPowerhouse by The Huffington Post. She is a keynote speaker, has been a talk show host for Plum TV, writes for F+W Media publications including Artist’s Magazine, Artist’s & Graphic Designer’s Market, Photographer’s Market. Also, Zero to 100,000: Social Media Tips & Tricks for Small Businesses.

Comments

  1. Thank you for this post! Artists can so easily put health issues to the side. Now I want to read more of your advice. I particularly like the resistance ball suggestion. Thank you Lori and Joyce!

  2. Glad you found the post helpful Eric! Thank you and thanks to Lori!

    • Hi Joyce, thanks again for such a fun and unique post on the Healthy Artist! I just bought a big resistance ball to sit on while I blog, since I have to sit a lot while on the computer these days. It was great having you!

      Happy spring-
      Lori :)

  3. Thank you for this article. Currently, I am sat at my computer catching up on blogs, tweets, FB etc before continuing drawing on my WIP, munching chips and have not moved in hours (I think). Only redeeming factor is I’m sipping a large glass of water.

    Time to change position, find something healthy to eat, and do some exercise. Thank you.

  4. 15 mins of Pilates every day creates room for new thinking and creativity. I love it!!
    Thank you for a great post about the unique topic – combination of art and health.

  5. Michelle says:

    This is a great article, Lori! I battle w/ fibro. but I found that not moving enough, sitting too long or standing in one position makes fibro worse, not better. I just have to be aware of my body’s needs.

    One thing I have done is create a stand-up workstation so that I can better discipline myself in being efficient with my computer time. Since it is painful to stand too long in one position, I have to work quicker.

    (Admittingly I am not using it now since I am resting from a brisk walk I took earlier! -Even that can do a person in for a while who has fibro or other health issues! But some daily exercise is needful, despite the pain or fatigue it may bring!)

    I love getting all your tweets now in my Twitter stream, since I have backed out of looking at my blog reader on a regular basis until I finish getting my site up and running again!

  6. Oh my gosh, thank you Lori so much for this article… and for also posting Joyce Cherries advice.

    I have been struggling with some health issues. This article is a great reminder that we have to stop and take care of our health also. We can get so busy with our art, and over-do which is why I am going through what I am going through at this time.

    Thank you again.
    Sandy

    • Hello Sandy, it’s fun to see you here. I am glad Joyce’s tips are helpful to you. She is a great inspiration and we are lucky she shared some useful ideas for artists.
      Cheers,
      Lori

  7. Hi Lori,
    Thanks so much for this article it’s just what I needed. You got me thinking, I mean really thinking. I sit either at the easel, computer or watching tv, not much activity there. So, last week I started going to the local pool and started swimming laps, I do feel so much better for it. Thanks to both you and Joyce.

    Cheers,
    Tania

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