Thursday, August 23, 2007

Exercise for the mind

I work out at a local gym about five times a week.

It keeps me somewhat sane and I know it has been invaluable to me as a writer.

I used to be a real couch potato until I realized in my mid-twenties that gym life was actually kind of cool. I don't take classes because I'm too stubborn and a bit of a non-conformist ("No one tells me when to kick! I'll kick when I like!"), but I love burning calories by working out (in a self-directed way) on machines. Afterwards, I pig out and don't feel too guilty about it.

I truly wish more literary artists took the time to care for their bodies as well as they care for their creations. I know many authors who lament that they sit all day; would that they could allow themselves the pleasure of daily walking or jogging breaks.

Not only does regular aerobic exercise increase your stamina (so you can handle a few nights of writing until 2:00 a.m. and then getting up five short hours later ), it also provides your mind with "free association" time. I often mentally "escape" during physical activity and when I return to my computer, I'm much more relaxed, inspired and refreshed.

And there's another upshot to staying healthy, especially for those of us who routinely hear some variation of: "No, your work isn't good enough." When you're super-duper-pooper-scooper pissed off, running and/or lifting weights gets out your aggression in a productive manner that you're not likely to regret.

If you aren't accustomed to treating yourself to the luxury of a little exercise, I invite you to start now.

Even if you hate the concept of "formally" working out, you probably like some type of heart-pumping activity, whether it's hiking, cycling or even kissing. (I read once that "heavy petting" sessions can burn calories... what an awesome excuse for some late-night necking! Back seat sex optional.)



Hoodie said...

I grew up hating most forms of formal exercise, particularly team sports and anything that involved running because I seemed to always do poorly compared to everyone around me.

When I finally started going to a gym, a new world opened up to me. On a eliptical or treadmill, I don't have to compare myself to anyone. What I thought was a hatred towards exercise was actually just a hatred of exercise at someone else's pace. On my own I have increased my stamina and confidence while listening to my favorite music or catching up on the latest celebrity gossip (a guilty pleasure, to be sure).

In other words, YAY gym!

SzélsőFa said...

I can totally relate to what you have just said.

Basically I do aerobics almost every day for 25-30 mimutes and I like when endorfin kicks in. Doing aerobics also is a kind of escape, time to relax, refresh. If I accomplish the routine I am satisfied with myself. So it is also a source of self-confidence :)
I'm not going to gyms partly b/c they are either expensive/stinking/or both, partly b/c most women there are vain youngsters. But I feel too old to join a sport club for the retired, as I'm only 37 :)
At home I have a weight to lift, the music I LIKE, and noone around to watch and measure the size of my tummy, the strength of my this or that muscle.

SzélsőFa said...

wow, thanks for listing one of my blogs - I hope my thanks are not REALLY belated ? !

In return, I would also like to link you. Do you have any particular forest/nature/plant/animal related name that I might use as to refer to your site?

(Hoodie became 'The weeping willow' for example.)

Jennifer said...

No comment. I do play frisbee. Often.

The Quoibler said...

Hoodie: Me, too. I despised gym class and had my best friend forge notes so I could be excused! However, the gym/health club atmosphere is so much different! I can be self-directed, and it's fabulous. I'm visiting my mother for a few days and I miss my workouts greatly! I'm planning to take a walk or jog for my mental health at some point!

Szelsofa: That's great that you work out at home! I wasn't sure--are you located in Europe? If so, are the gyms geared toward more of the "body building" types? Here, I've been able to find ones that are very, very clean (spotless, really) and not too much like a "bar" atmosphere (in terms of hooking up between men and women.)

Szelsofa: Could I be "Lily of the Valley"? :) Maybe "Stinkweed", if Lily is taken.

Jennifer: Nothing wrong with frisbee! Hand-eye coordination, running... it's all exercise!