Thursday, May 17, 2012

Writers and Exercise

I recently read on a blog that the latest research shows that a sedentary lifestyle is worse for you than other unhealthy habits, like smoking. Hard to believe, isn’t it? But that statement reminded me of an interview I participated in when SCRAPBOOK OF SECRETS first came out.  I was asked about my running because I write about what I think about during my runs. (And my runs are not beautiful gazelle-like. movements, I’m more like a huffing-puffing duck waddling through my neighborhood. heh.)

Here’s what I answered in the interview when I was asked about it:
For me, almost any kind of exercise helps with the writing process. It helps clear away the morning cobwebs in my brain. I started running a few years ago, but all of my life I’ve been a physical person. Dancer. Gymnast. Yogini. Now, I have fallen in love with Zumba! But I still run every other day.
I was at a writer’s conference a few years ago where there were a lot of older writers dealing with a variety of ailments, which were not helped by the sedentary lifestyle. It’s so important that we move—yet our work plants us in front of the computer for long hours at a time.  So I’ve vowed to myself to keep moving.

I understand that answered ruffled a few feathers. 
But I don’t understand why. And that’s not really the point of this post.  The point is that writers are not unlike the rest of the population—we need to exercise. But writers are NOT like a lot of people in that we sit for hours and hours in front of our computers and in that many of us tend to live in our heads, not in our bodies. The worlds we create on paper (or computer) often pull us away from our physical lives. It can be unhealthy.  But let me be clear here: this is my experience as a writer, as a person, and the experience of friends who are writers. (I’m talking about friends, not colleagues.)

When I went to this particular writing conference, which was a journalism conference, I saw writers with walkers because of arthritis, and heard them talking about their high blood pressure and diabetes medicine and so on. They themselves would tell you they were chained to their computers for far too many years. (In fact, that was a part of the conversation all weekend.) My statement was not about judging them—or anybody else.  It is about acknowledging that our choices today may affect our health when we our older and the unique challenge some of us writers face when it comes to our health.  

As for me, I began taking my health a lot more seriously a few years ago when I went for a hike with a group of women and the oldest woman in the group—twenty years my senior, passed me by as I was gasping for breath. I didn’t think I was in bad shape. But it dawned on me that I wanted to be in better shape to keep up with my daughters. I’m an older mother—I didn’t have my first baby until I was 36. 

I don’t just want to be there for my kids. I want to be WITH my kids when they hike, bike or whatever. In fact at this point in my life, I can tell you that they are the inspiration for most of what I do.

How about you? Do you exercise? Do you hate it? Love it?

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