Is your life balanced? Do you work, rest, and play equally? If you’re a modern person, juggling writing, a day job, and a family, your response is: “What are you talking about?” Most likely, we need to move more*, play more and rest more.
Physical exercise is a wonderful counterbalance to the focused mental work and solitary lifestyle of a writer. Our work as writers needs to be first priority if we want to get our work done. Ironically, however, making time in our schedule to move reminds us that we are more than only the mind. We are of the body too.
Exercise is a great way to juice up your creativity and change your perspective on your writing. I see exercise as a form of play. Remember when you were a kid and you ran around playing tag or hide-n-go-seek until dusk? I assert that the right exercise for you can be that same kind of “in the moment” joy. All you need to do is re-discover what is the right kind of exercise for you.
After nearly three years of exercising regularly, I share my insight from the perspective of someone who had never exercised regularly before.
Step One – The Fun Factor
Find an exercise that you love! Use your childhood passions for inspiration. How can you turn one or many of them into something you can do now? Bicycling, walking, swimming, running, yoga, one of the many forms of dance – the list is endless.
Step Two – Baby Steps
Start out with brief, low-impact classes or short stints outdoors. Take walking, for instance: it’s simple, most anyone can do it, and the equipment investment is minimal. On Day One, take yourself to a nice place and walk for ten minutes. Enjoy your surroundings, the creatures and people. Notice how you feel. Breathe the fresh air. Remember to stretch.
If you’re out of shape, your week one goal is to walk twice for only ten minutes each. Stick with a regular schedule until you can move the frequency up to three times a week. Then incrementally move up the duration of your walks, going from 10 to 12 minutes. Then add a few more minutes, until you’re walking 35-40 minutes three times a week. The object of the game is to keep it fun and to say, “I can do this!”
Track your routine and your progress. Keep a log of the date, the activity, and its duration on an index card or exercise logbook.
Be kind to yourself
Don’t over-do it. Over-high expectations are counter-productive in this realm of baby steps. Be aware of what’s reasonable, in terms of activity chosen, time allotted, and the expectation that it will change your life and body instantly. Choose a place to exercise that is between work and home, or easy to get to, like your living room. And use music, if you like, to lift the spirits while you move!
Like anything important, making time for exercise requires giving up something else in your schedule, like TV, or too many volunteer jobs.
Balance out the intense demands of your writing life with time spent in the body. A calmer and clearer writer’s mind, and improved health the rewards from taking the time to exercise.
Happy Exercising and Writing!
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