Recording studios seem like such a cool environment to work in, but there’s many ways in which our studio lifestyle may be killing us. In this short article we’re going to tell you how to make sure you don’t have a great career at the expense of your health.
Sitting All Day
There’s a wealth of research that shows a sedentary lifestyle is bad for our health. Effects on health include higher chance of depression, blood sugar spikes, back problems, poor sleep and forgetfulness.
Some studies have suggested that sitting all day reduced life expectancy, although the jury is still out on any direct link. However it is proven that excercise has several positive health effects.
Furthermore, bad posture through using a bad chair or sitting in the wrong position can lead to long term issues with back and neck, which if left unchecked may be bad news.
Let’s be honest when you have a deadline and need to get work done fast then often good food choices drop down the priority list. Poor diet can affect everything from weight gain and even worse about 30% of fat is visceral, in other words an unseen problem if left unchecked. Poor diet can also create issues with digestion and bowel issues too.
Little Or No Exercise
Some days when the deadlines are looming we can go to the studio and sit in the same chair for 18 hours, some of us do this 24/7, 365 days a year and getting little of no exercise.
It's medically proven that people who do regular physical activity have:
up to a 35% lower risk of coronary heart disease and stroke
up to a 50% lower risk of type 2 diabetes
up to a 50% lower risk of colon cancer
up to a 20% lower risk of breast cancer
a 30% lower risk of early death
up to an 83% lower risk of osteoarthritis
up to a 68% lower risk of hip fracture
a 30% lower risk of falls (among older adults)
up to a 30% lower risk of depression
up to a 30% lower risk of dementia
As you can see sitting all day in a studio is really bad for your health.
Not Enough Sleep
Again a studio lifestyle can be one that burns the midnight oil or the candle at both ends. You are tweaking a snare or trying to fit a piece of audio and suddenly realise that it’s 3am… again.
Studies have shown the adults on average need between 7-8 hours of sleep per day. Anything less on a regular basis is considered sleep deprivation and could affect your overall performance and health.
“Sleep helps your brain work properly. While you're sleeping, your brain is preparing for the next day. It's forming new pathways to help you learn and remember information.
Studies show that a good night's sleep improves learning. Whether you're learning math, how to play the piano, how to perfect your golf swing, or how to drive a car, sleep helps enhance your learning and problem-solving skills. Sleep also helps you pay attention, make decisions, and be creative.
Studies also show that sleep deficiency alters activity in some parts of the brain. If you're sleep deficient, you may have trouble making decisions, solving problems, controlling your emotions and behavior, and coping with change. Sleep deficiency also has been linked to depression, suicide, and risk-taking behavior.” According to the NIH.
For those who don’t know I’m 52 and have spent a great deal of my life sitting in studios, these days the dream of a home studio is a reality and I often joke that my daily commute to work is about 20 seconds if the traffic is bad. I can walk from the kitchen across the courtyard in about that time and be working in less than a minute.
4 years ago my life was changed with the arrival of my baby girl. Children have a way of focussing the mind and turning your well ordered and ingrained routines on their head. My wife had been encouraging me start taking care of myself for a long time, she didn’t care about vanity issues but she did care about in her words ‘that Aoife would have a Daddy as she grew up.’
I had all the signs of living a studio lifestyle as shown above, back problems from using the wrong chair and sitting badly. I rarely moved once I started work. My diet, whilst not the worst in the world, certainly didn’t contain enough of the good stuff and it had plenty of the bad stuff. My sleep patterns were poor, often around 5 hours a night, which I would justify by saying I was too busy for more sleep. This cocktail of poor life choices was completed by a very little physical activity. I have been around 4 stones (52 pounds) heavier than I should be. To be frank I was a health disaster waiting to happen.
Furthermore my body was giving me plenty of warnings that I needed to deal with these issues. Back ache, regular migraines, stomach issues, lack of concentration, the inability to focus, especially when deadlines were looming. I still got the work done and done well, but it was taking an unnecessary toll on me.
One Saturday evening about two months ago I was sat alone in front of the TV and feeling another stomach pain and generally crap and I came to my senses and thought enough is enough, I can’t put this off any longer.
The Change Begins
What I’m about to tell you may scare you, but if I can do it then you can. This is what I’ve done and the results.
Alcohol is largely gone from my life. Friday is treat night and I have a couple of cocktails with a takeaway. Other than that I do not drink.
All refined sugar is gone. No sweets, chocolate, desserts or processed food which is full of sugar, even the savoury stuff.
All meals in the house are cooked fresh, we do not use any ready meals. This means we can control things like salt, sugar and other unnecessary chemicals they put into them.
Bread has gone from my diet, as has most carbs. If I eat carbs they are in small quantities, for example about 50gms of rice with a meal.
Dairy is greatly reduced, milk, cheese, cream etc. With the exception of eating low fat yoghurt.
Breakfast is mainly fruit, porridge or bran based cereal. Tea has largely gone from my diet and any coffee is decaffeinated. I found coffee bags on Amazon I can use in the coffee machine which taste surprisingly good.
Red meat is down too, about once a week now.
Lunch is salad with either fish like tuna from a can or skinless chicken or turkey.
Dinner is a meal cooked from scratch with plenty of vegetables or salad. We use the Hairy Dieters books which are full of amazing meals that taste great.
Snacking is now based on fruit, nuts and seeds. I think I’ve eaten more fruit in two months than in the previous 10 years!
I drink water regularly now, litres of the stuff!
Regular walking, helped by owning a dog. About 10K a week.
Regular running using an app called Weight Loss By Running by Verv. It starts you off walking with some low intensity running and then helps you to build up to more running over time. Each run is about 3 miles, I do three runs a week. It’s available for both iOS and Android
Pilates - something I thought was reserved for ladies of a certain age. I couldn’t have been more wrong. This low impact exercise regime centres around building up your core, some of the workout is killer, it may be slow but it’s hard work. I go to a class once a week.
Seating And Posture
I bit the bullet and spent money on a real chair by Herman Miller, I must have been an idiot to think I could sit for 12 hours a day in a £99 Office Depot charge and survive.
I now stand regularly during the day and walk around the room, or in my case the garden.
I’m trying to go to bed around 10pm each night (how rock and roll I hear you say). For me 10pm seems to be the magic point when my body goes to sleep fast and then I sleep until 6-7am the next morning.
So far I’ve lost 1.5 stones, about 21 pounds and feel better for it. The aim is 4 stones, 52 pounds in total.
I have fewer migraines and neck issues.
My back pains are largely gone.
My stomach issues have miraculously disappeared.
I’m sleeping around 8 hours a night.
I have more energy, better concentration and sharper ideas.
I generally feel better.
As I’ve already said, if I can do this anyone can. I urge anyone who is ignoring their health and well being and using the studio life style as an excuse for it to change that now.
As a final story, most of you will not know that during this year one of our team was hospitalised and in ICU for several weeks, it was touch and go for a while as they battled a lung infection. They are now better but have changed their lifestyle with better diet and regular exercise. It was not only a wake-up call for them but for other members of our team.
We all think we are invincible, that fact is less likely if we don’t take care of ourselves.
I’m going to close with a quote from the theologian CH Spurgeon “Do not avoid work that you may stay well, stay well that you may work.”
Please take care of yourself, this industry needs you!