~ By Susan Scott Shelley
Writing requires large chunks of time huddled over a computer. All that time devoted to producing your novel can also give you hunched shoulders, lower back pain, weakened core muscles, bad posture and poor circulation. Whether you prefer writing in bed, curled up in a chair, seated at a desk, or standing at your workstation, it’s time to stretch and take a lap around the room. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
The human body was made for movement but most of us spend a lot of time sitting. Taking frequent breaks to stretch and move around is beneficial to your health.
Many writers have fitness routines, but many do not. No matter where you are on the daily-activity spectrum, periodically taking stock of how you feel, and seeing if changes are necessary, is important. You know yourself better than anyone. If you have illnesses or chronic conditions that make exercising difficult, talk to your doctor about designing a fitness and nutrition plan that will work for you.
My family’s health history makes exercising and eating healthy top priorities for me. I encourage everyone to know their numbers, ask about family history and take a proactive approach to keep yourself healthy. I know one of my friends has scoliosis. It’s believed that scoliosis can be hereditary, so it wasn’t a surprise to her when she was diagnosed with it. Having scoliosis makes it difficult for her to sit down for a long amount of time, so she tries to participate in certain exercises to help relieve her spine of any unnecessary pain or tension. She also said something about going to discuss some treatment options with a specialist (click here) the other day. She hopes that will make it easier for her to sit down properly and start taking part in more exercises. It’s always good to know about any family health problems so you can prepare yourself for the diagnosis.
Experts agree that exercise increases sleep quality and energy levels, decreases stress levels, and improves your immune system and your mood. When I’m exercising and eating right, I experience all of the above, which leads to better writing.
I’ve learned a lot about fitness and nutrition and developed a plan that works best for me. I strive to exercise for thirty to sixty minutes a day, most days a week. Timing depends on whether I’m doing a cardio, strength training, or flexibility workout. The body adapts fairly quickly so changing up your workouts is important. Varying workouts also keeps me from getting bored. Try a new class at your gym, slip in a new exercise DVD or make up your own routine. You’re never too old to resume an activity you loved as a child or to try something new.
Deadlines, evil-day-jobs, families, and friends…with so many commitments, finding time to exercise can be challenging. I’m a professional voice over artist. Depending on the job, I may be recording and editing for one hour or several. My schedule varies every day so flexibility with when and how I work out and write is key. Breaking both into smaller increments spread throughout the day works best for me. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. You just have to be creative.
Ideas for extremely tight-on-time days: Do lunges, squats, or jumping jacks while making dinner or waiting for your morning coffee to brew. Unpacking groceries or unloading the dish washer? Great, you have weights! Squat, lunge, and overhead press your way through it. When watching TV, exercise during the commercials. When talking on the phone, walk around instead of sitting.
None of us wants to be pulled out of the writing zone. When you do come up for air, step away from the keyboard, take a few minutes to stretch, then jog, bear-crawl, or dance your way across the room.
If you look for opportunities to exercise, you’ll find several occasions throughout your day. Make it a game, not a chore. Think Mary Poppins: “In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun…”
I love hearing new ideas for workouts. What do you do? What tips and tricks work best for you? Share!
Susan Scott Shelley is an award-winning author of contemporary romance and romantic suspense. She is a member of several RWA chapters and has served as VFRW’s Secretary and Co-Chairperson of The Sheila Contest. A professional voice over artist, she resides outside of Philadelphia with her very own Superhero and spends her days writing about tough heroes, smart heroines and love being the strongest magic there is.
Please visit Susan at www.susanscottshelley.com.