As voice over actors, our vocal cords regularly get a hearty workout. But the same may not be true for the rest of our bodies. Even if we consistently schedule exercise into our off-work hours, it may not be enough to combat the effects of spending our days in a recording booth.
Whether we sit all day, or stand while recording and then sit for editing, we’re still not moving around all that much. While a combination of sitting and standing can be better for you than prolonged bouts of just sitting, the effects of a largely inactive job can still add up.
Detriments of Sedentary Jobs
When we engage in extended, uninterrupted bouts of inactivity, a number of negative biochemical reactions can actually start to occur. Our bodies become less effective at breaking down cholesterol and blood sugar, which increases the risk of strokes, heart attacks and diabetes.
Being sedentary for extended periods can result in:
- Higher blood sugar levels
- Increased triglycerides, which are fats known for causing disease
- Lower levels of HDL (aka “good”) cholesterol
- Increased fatty buildup and calcium in the heart’s arteries
- Increased risk of obesity
- Higher risk of heart disease and cancer
If you switched your extended hours of sitting for prolonged hours of standing, you can end up with an entirely new set of risks. These include:
- Lower back issues from constant compression of the spine
- Deep vein thrombosis, varicose veins and other cardiovascular problems
- Double the risk of heart disease over people that mostly sit
How to Lower the Health Risks
Being aware of all the risks gives us great motivation for correcting them, and we have several things we can do.
Maintain Good Posture: One of the most important is to maintaining good posture, whether sitting or standing. We voice over artists tend to maintain good posture when recording, as we know the effects on our delivery if we don’t. But we may still hunch over or slouch when we’re editing or otherwise working at the computer.
Follow the 20-8-2 Rule: Another recommendation is known as the 20-8-2 rule. For every 20 minutes we spend sitting, it recommends eight minutes of standing and two minutes of gentle movement. Since this may be impossible to keep up based on our recording schedules and deadlines, we can at least get up and move around when we get a few minutes between tasks.
Physical Exercises for Voice Over Actors
One more way to help combat the negative effects of inactivity is with exercises specifically designed to work areas that tend to stiffen up throughout the day.
Neck and Shoulder Stretches
Stretch the sides of your neck by sitting tall and dropping your left ear towards our left shoulder. Keep your shoulder level, making sure you don’t raise it to meet your ear. Hold for five seconds, then repeat on the right.
Stretch the back of your neck by dropping your chin toward your chest, then smoothly and gently rolling your head from one side to the other side.
Stretch your shoulders by shrugging them up towards your ears. Hold for five seconds, then release. Repeat five times.
Upper Body Stretches
Open your chest by bringing your palms together behind the middle of your back. Sit tall, pressing the palms together and holding for at least five seconds.
Stretch your sides by extending your left arm over your head, then reaching as far as you can while bending to the right. Hold for several seconds, then repeat on the other side.
Do a seated spinal twist by turning your upper body to the right, putting both hands on the arm of your chair. Drop your shoulders and twist to the right, lengthening your spine as you inhale. Look over your right shoulder and hold for at least three seconds. Repeat on other side.
Stretch your upper back by intertwining your fingers with your palms facing outward. Reach your palms upward towards the ceiling as you inhale and elongate your spine.
Lower Body Stretches and Exercise
Do mini squats by standing up from your chair, and then sitting back down 10 times in a row.
Work your calves by standing up behind your chair, holding the back for support. Start with feet flat on the floor, then raise your heels as you stand on your toes. Lower back down slowly. Repeat to complete three sets of 10.
Stretch your glutes by putting your feet flat on the floor while seated, and then lifting your right ankle onto your left knee. Gently press down on your right knee three or four times. Repeat on other side.
Stretch your legs with a knee hug. Bend your right knee, then lift your knee to your chest, wrapping your arms around it to pull it as close to your upper body as you can. Hold for at least five seconds, then repeat on the left.
Although we may still spend hours in the recording booth, these tips can help offset the detrimental effects of daylong inactivity. Moving, stretching and exercising throughout the day, even briefly, can also make us feel more energized while bringing on longer-term benefits.