Fitness for Sitters

FITNESS FOR SITTERS

WALKING WITH VAMPIRES

Between working full time for the public schools and making time to write, it's easy to get behind on reading. I often end up reading in bed and falling asleep after a few pages. I've had many late night conversations with my husband that go something like this:

Hubbie: You're sleeping.
Me: I'm just resting my eyes.
Hubbie: You've been on the same page for   ten minutes.
Me: No I haven't.
Hubbie: You're drooling on the book.
Me: Snore

At this rate it can take forever to make it through a book.

I like listening to books on tape while I drive, but going to the library to check out audio books takes time and when I visit the audio bookstore, they often don't have a lot of young adult selections in stock.

The other activity that often gets short-changed is exercise. It's hard to stay in shape when you spend hours sitting at a desk. By the time I get home in the evening, I'm too tired to go somewhere else. Especially somewhere exhausting like the gym. One day I had a flash of inspiration. I considered that if I listened to books on my phone while I exercised, I might actually accomplish both activities. 
I recently joined audible.com and started downloading books to my iPhone. The first book was Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter by Seth Graham-Smith.  I found the book to be very well researched, despite the subject, though I must admit that by the end of the story, the lines between history and horror were a little fuzzy.

The story is built on the premise that vampires were behind the slave trade and the Civil War. No one complained when slaves went missing, so slavery provided the perfect cover for the vampire's bloody appetites. Rich southerners sided with the undead because it was lucrative, not to mention the fact that they were happy they were not on the menu. Abraham Lincoln saw through their real plot which was to have eventual control over everyone. He had a longstanding hatred of them because vampires were responsible for the death of his mother. The current movie version stars Benjamin Walker.

For the workout portion of this undertaking, I used a brand new workout video that I highly recommend: 5 Really Big Miles by Leslie Sansone. The title of the video is straightforward (kind of like the Lincoln-Vampire title). It cost me about thirteen dollars including shipping and came with an exercise band.  There are several features that I really like about this video:

- By the time I am finished with the video (sometimes it takes a few days) I have worked all the major muscle groups.
- The people on the video look like my friends and neighbors. Not like someone out of a fitness magazine.
- The routines are very basic so I can concentrate on the story I'm listening to and NOT think about tripping over my own feet trying to follow something complicated like Zumba.
- The routines are broken down into segments of about fifteen minutes each. Every segment represents one mile so I can measure my progress. Kind of like counting pages.

Now that summer vacation is here and I have more time to write, I'm using the workout routine to help me get up from my desk and get moving. I have developed tendonitis after years of computer use. I write for a while, then get up and walk (while listening to vampire stories of course). Write some more. Walk some more.

If all goes well, by the end of the summer I plan to have completed writing my new book, lost ten pounds, and finished listening to numerous novels.


EIGHT MINUTES IN THE MORNING

Being a writer requires long hours of sitting in front of a computer. So do many other professions. Sitting for hours at a time is very taxing on the body. Repetitive stress injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome and tendonitis can be extremely painful, not to mention the negative affects of lack of exercise on overall health. But for people who sit for a large part of their day, it can be difficult to get moving. As the old adage goes, "Bodies in motion stay in motion. Bodies at rest stay at rest."

So what is a writer (or other sedentary couch potato) to do? How does one get up from the chair and move, especially if there are looming deadlines? How do we fit exercise into an already hectic schedule, especially if you are juggling a writing career with a full-time job? We all know that exercise has numerous health benefits, but who has the time?  A recent article in the IDEA Fitness Journal summarized a study conducted by The Karolinska Institute in Stockholm conducted that was published in the Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine (2011: 53 [8]). The purpose of the study was to determine the result of work productivity on workers who were given time off (2.5 hours per week) to exercise. Actual productivity of these workers was similar to that of people who didn’t get time off to exercise, but the exercise group reported that they felt more productive and took fewer days off due to illness. The bottom line was that taking time off to exercise didn’t decrease productivity, and in some cases, increased it.
Could the same be true for writers? Would I write the same number of pages even if I used some of my limited time for exercise?

My personal experience has been that when I adhere to an exercise schedule and take breaks to exercise, I feel more mentally alert, more energetic, and more organized.  It’s hard to get started though. Sometimes it can feel like trying to move a mountain, (or at least my mountain-like butt).

A book I have found extremely helpful is 8 Minutes in the Morning by Jorge Cruise. He outlines a weight lifting program that addresses all the major muscle groups and can be accomplished in as little as 8 minutes a day. He cites evidence that when we exercise in the morning, we continue to burn calories all day. His book contains handy travel cards that you can slip into your wallet when you’re on the road. There is a diet plan and even inspirational motivators. 

But to be completely honest, I leave for work at six forty-five in the morning, and I write before that, so many days even that 8 minutes feels impossible. One solution I've incorporated is to take an adjustable weight to work and do two minutes of exercise at a time. I also have an adjustable set of weights next to my writing desk at home. This reminds me to get up every now and then and move my body. Even this small amount of exercise helps me stay toned and pain free. Just as writing a book requires focusing on one page at a time, even a couch potato like me can become fit if I just do a little bit of exercise every day

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