Exercise and Writing
Exercise and Health…
One thing I have noticed with some pleasure is that many of you have told me you are not only writing, but focusing on getting some exercise each day. That is critical in my opinion to long-term writing.
So a few things about movement to think about.
Get up every hour from your computer, stare off into the distance, stretch. Even before that, make sure your computer set-up is good, meaning feet flat on the floor, arms supported, eyes looking directly at the screen.
Yeah, I know, laptops on couches are your thing. And spending time in doctor’s offices will be as well if you keep that up too much without regular movement, and I do mean every thirty to forty minutes. If you are writing in a bad position like on a couch or chair, you have to move more often to avoid injury. That simple.
A suggestion. Drink a lot of tea or coffee while writing. A large mug before you start, more while you are writing. That will get you moving regularly. (grin)
Another reason to get away from a computer screen regularly is your eyes. I only have one good eye and straining that scares me to death. So make sure you rest your eyes before you end up like me or worse.
As far as larger exercise, Kris and I use a Fitbit to track our steps. I bought one that is on my wrist to track a ton more than steps, including heart-rate and such. Kris runs more than I do, but as I lose weight I am slowly picking up the running. I do make sure I get over 10,000 steps per day. Kris has a higher number.
I also have two friends I am in a challenge with to lose weight. Every time I lose five pounds and keep it off for a full month, they both have to write a $100 check to a kid’s charity we support. I do the same if they lose five pounds. The kids are getting some money.
Yes, moving around takes time. Exercising takes time. So you have to make it a priority. Please do so folks. I have lost far too many friends this last few years who didn’t exercise, didn’t care about their weight, and just hurt themselves in the name of more hours in front of the computer.
Trust me, social media will get along just fine without you. But your friends and family won’t if you kill yourself with stupidity.
When I hit my middle forties I noticed I was slowing down, so I joined a gym. At first I worried that losing an hour a day, six days a week to exercise would hurt my writing, but the extra energy I got from the workouts actually made my word count go up.
Yup, one of those annoying things that on the surface makes no sense, but is a reality.
Health is absolutely a priority. I’m slowly changing the way I eat and my goal is to set up a tread desk set up with my ball and weights to combine my writing and exercise together. I hope this year to be able to do this and also get into dictation while walking.
If you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything.
It’s probably pretty common knowledge, but a blue light-blocking app like F.lux can go a long way towards reducing eye strain. F.lux even has a daytime setting called “reduce eyestrain” that I’ve found to be most effective.
just my $.02
Wanted to second F.lux… This is especially useful for those of us who’ve developed annoying floaters which make themselves all too conspicuous on white backgrounds.
I think Windows 10 has this feature built in as well. It’ll be on in the quick settings icons on the messaging sidebar.
On Ubuntu (and other desktop Linuxes), the equivalent app is called Redshift (although in modern Ubuntu and others with GNOME-based interfaces, “night light” is built into the UI and is available in settings > devices > displays).
Redshift also has a “disable for 30 minutes/1 hour/2 hours” setting that’s great for Netflix watching or gaming, and even better that when it fades back in, you know your break is over and it’s time to get back to work, lol.
I’ll third f.lux and say that it’s got automatic settings that will turn it off / down if you’re watching movies or doing graphics work, you just have to enable it.
Also, it will help you sleep better to reduce the blue light.
A great, GREAT post.
I write more and feel more positive about my writing when I’m getting enough exercise.
And nothing gets me past some plot problem like a few laps around the block.
Agree, Maree. I try to get 10,000 steps, so I am often off later in the evening for a walk down to Fremont and back (about 3,000 steps) and amazing how that clears my head on a lot of stuff.
This is what I was going to say. There’s something head clearing about walking, specifically walking, that clears the mind completely. I’ve never gotten that feeling from lifting, ball sports or combat sports.
I suppose jogging would probably do the same, not sure about swimming.
Excellent advice! James Scott Bell has mentioned that writers who are physically active are also very prolific. He had writing hacks about writing immediately after exercising to take advantage of the blood flowing to the brain. I’ve tried it and found that it works pretty well. (He also advocates hanging upside down, but I just feel like I want to die.)
Hanging upside down??? Now that’s just strange. (grin)
It’s one reason to be thankful for my inability to sit still. It can take me ages to write a few thousand words (all day sometimes and definitely *never* in just a couple of hours) but I move around enough that I’ve never hurt myself staring too long at a computer or scribbling in a notebook. Silver linings, right? 😉
Dean, thank you for sharing your health strategies. I also find accountability crucial. It has changed our approach to exercising, like you have developed a different attitude towards losing weight and keeping at it. Stefan and I started to do our morning exercises together in the USA three week ago. Now we are back in Munich, and still doing them together. It‘s much more fun, and I catch myself looking forward to mornings. Greetings from Germany!