Getting back to writing full time has been great in all ways except one: spending most of the day sitting in front of the computer. I take breaks and proof things out on the porch, or take my editing out to the work bench in the garage, which I use as a standing desk, but I have been spending a few too many hours on my butt in a small room. After gaining a few too many pounds over the holidays I also needed to work that off before I ended up spending all of summer in my chubby clothes.
I am not an exercise lover; my joints make most workouts impossible for me, and I'm not nearly flexible enough to do more than the very basic low-impact stuff. Also, like most people, I hate exercising. The only varieties of exercise I've always liked are swimming and walking, and since we don't have a pool and the beach is far, far away I decided to set a daily walking goal for myself. In addition to what I already walk with the dogs I would try to do an extra mile in the morning and another in the afternoon.
Two miles doesn't sound like a lot, I know. Unless you have a bum knee, arthritic joints, and a tricksy ankle that likes to sprain itself with any misstep; then you're probably quite familiar with my pain. Most days those extra two miles do feel like twenty, especially when I do mile #2 after dinner. The first week I got blisters from wearing the wrong shoes; the second I had to change my route because the late-day traffic and people driving like maniacs down my favorite country road to walk scared the heck out of me.
The benefits, on the other hand, have been measurable. I lost five pounds in the first week without any extra dieting (probably all in sweat.) I'm sleeping better, too -- deeper, restful sleep without waking up in the middle of the night. I can't say I'm full of boundless energy, but my spirits have been better and I feel more upbeat about things, which tends to make me more energetic. Being outside in the sun and seeing the flowers of spring has that effect on me; we writers often forget how beautiful the real world is, too.
Walking also inspires me to think in different directions. I took my camera on one morning walk and photographed this old shed door, and then came home and wrote on the image:
Sure, it's not War and Peace, but it made me think in a different direction. When I booted up my work file for the day I took on a scene I thought would be difficult to write, but thanks to getting creative with the pic I worked my way through it with a bit more confidence and enthusiasm.
Where you walk is as important as how often you walk. Obviously you want to go somewhere safe, but you should also consider the environment. I love country neighborhoods as much as urban developments, but I try to avoid dirt roads (the ankle -- it's super tricksy on uneven or unstable surfaces.) I love to walk down by the lake, and since they have a really cool nature trail there I also see lots of birds every time I go. If you have a beautiful park nearby your home or office that offers a nice walking op you should try to visit it a few times a week.
On days when the weather doesn't encourage outdoor walking (next month rainy season starts here) I'll either do all my walking in the morning before it usually rains, or head to a nearby mall that I've measured with a pedometer; one lap of that place equals exactly one mile. I'm also going to measure a couple of local museums where I have annual memberships to see how much of my goal I can knock off by walking through them.
How do you exercise most successfully? Let us know in comments.