We briefly touched on some of the reasons why fitness is an important consideration for writers. It offers a way to curb or overcome many of the negative effects the writing lifestyle has on our minds and bodies—the sedentary habits, the stress, the solitude…
Let’s take a closer look at this and get a better understanding of how being physically active can impact us and, ultimately, our writing. If you’re looking for a real way to motivate yourself to pursue overall fitness and health, you don’t need a huge long list. Honestly, just review the following points and pick one or two benefits that apply to you and your long-term writing goals and dreams.
- Exercise reduces risk of disease: How many writers out there have attended a convention and come back with the infamous “concrud?” How many writers have lost days, if not weeks of productivity to a cold or flu? Not only can a healthier body fight off more seasonal and situational diseases better (with a stronger immune system), but exercise has been shown to reduce the risk of major diseases such as diabetes, heart conditions, osteoporosis, and even cancer.
- Exercise boosts energy levels: You might not feel it after stumbling in exhausted from a workout, but exercise is actually a great way to overcome fatigue and increase your overall energy levels. This comes from factors such as increased blood flow, providing better oxygen and nutrient distribution, among other things. Rather than constantly relying on stimulants to get you through the day or a tough first draft, exercise might be a critical key to establishing a more energetic baseline.
- Exercise increases mental focus: Studies have shown that regular exercise stimulates brain activity and also boosts production of chemicals responsible for the formation of new nerve connections in areas of the brain responsible for higher reasoning. It’s also been noted to ward off the effects of memory loss and dementia as one ages. As writers, why wouldn’t we want to do everything possible to enhance our mental performance?
- Exercise can reduce chronic pain: Exercise promotes the production of endorphins, which boost moods and reduces pain. It also encourages stronger joints and supporting musculature, while reducing extra weight that can cause painful health complications. General fitness can help people break out of “pain cycles,” where they adopt distorted postures or movements to avoid hurting as much—which only worsen the symptoms in the long term.
- Exercise can improve sleep: Suffering from constant fatigue because you just aren’t getting enough sleep? After a while, lack of sleep is going to levy a hefty toll on your mind and body, undercutting your ability to focus and perform at even an average level. Regular exercise has been shown to improve one’s ability to sleep well and even reduce the amount of time it takes to fall asleep.
- Exercise can extend your lifespan: By improving overall health, helping dampen disease risk, and keeping you physically and mentally active as you age, exercise can add years to your life expectancy. More years obviously means more time you can spend creating and exploring new worlds, new characters, and sharing your stories with others!
- Exercise can bolster your self-esteem: In all honesty, many of us are self-conscious about how we look. Or we’re down on ourselves because we don’t think we are as capable as those around us. A good fitness routine can not only help a person lose weight, and improve posture, but can also help us recognize how strong and enduring we actually are in the midst of tough challenges. This attitude of perseverance can then keep us going in our writing.
Which of these big benefits stick out to you the most and why? Have you struggled with poor sleep that’s leaving you reliant on caffeine to function during an early morning writing routine? Is consistent joint pain distracting you from revisions? Do you simply lack the overall energy to get the words on the page? Implementing even a basic fitness routine can make a world of difference with your writing.
Of course, even with all this in mind, writers still can face a number of challenges that hold them back from embracing a healthier, fitter lifestyle. We’ll look at some of those next and see what can be done about them.