Writers are not known to be a handsome bunch. Oh, there are those rare exceptions. The dashing beard of an Ernest Hemingway. The silky smooth yams of a Bronte sister. But for the most part, us plebeian wordsmiths are unsightly at best and induce crying in children at worst. But what else would you expect from a group of people whose passion is to sit and think, often with a bag of snack cookies at our side as an incentive to just keep writing. (One more paragraph equals one more cookie!)
But physical fitness should not be overlooked. Artists often scoff when they face the prospect of breaking a sweat. It harkens back to nightmarish memories of gym class and Little League. But the mind and body are far from separate. And the creative mind, even if you do not realize it, yearns for more than just mental challenges. It yearns for physical activity.
I work out at the gym about five times a week. Yes, that’s more than the average person. But over the course of about six years, I’ve grown to love working out. In fact, if I miss a day at the gym, I feel off. It’s been a long journey of education, self-patience and practice to become the gym bunny I am today. And I think it has certainly played a positive role in my creative development. If I feel good physically, I can think more clearly.
If you do not have a workout routine in place and if the thought of lifting a dumbbell intimidates the hell out of you, I challenge you to start small. Very small. The longest journey begins with a single step just as a trip to the gym starts with walking out the door. You don’t need to learn all there is to know about proper form and reps and that kind of stuff when you are just getting into a fitness routine. Just challenge yourself to do one bit of physical activity more than you did yesterday. Walk around the block during your lunch break. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Will these things make a huge difference physically? Perhaps. But more importantly, they will begin to condition your mind to understand that exercise is something you can do.
If you are looking for some resources to help you understand physical fitness, check out the Body Sculpting Bible series. Although the focus tends to be on aesthetic outcome, which really should be second banana to improving your physical health, it offers detailed workout routine descriptions. If you have a smartphone, download one of the many fitness apps. I use Full Fitness, which has revolutionized my workout routine.
Just as a writer should read as much if not more than he writes, a writer should also take care of his body. No one wants to be mired with health issues. You’ll thank yourself 10, 20, 30 years down the road when you’re well enough to continue writing into old age.