Thursday, February 12, 2015
Got 5 minutes?
Sitting at a computer all day is not good for your health. Not only do positive ions from the electronics that are a necessary part of your job negatively affect your health ("What Are Negative and Positive Ions?"), but, if you're like me, you don't take time to get the physical exercise your body, mind, and spirit need to work at their best.
Exercise is like oil to a machine. Without the essential lubricant, the machine won't run properly and will eventually burn out.
Now, I love to walk. But living where I do - in the western Pennsylvania countryside - winter, with all its storms and ice - presents a problem. At this writing, the driveway is a sheet of ice. If snow comes along and covers it, you'd think I'd get more traction. But snow atop ice is a false security. I know from experience. The blue sky and sunshine lured me out last week. I bundled up, pulled on my merino socks, laced on my hiking boots, and off on a 1-mile walk I went.
I got in my mile, but not without falling on the ice and having to turn back halfway out the lane when I encountered an impassible-without-ice-crampons ice field.
So I use my elliptical machine and work out to my Leslie Sansone Walk-at-Home DVDs. I shoot for three workouts per week.
But my favorite form of exercise (besides hiking) is swimming. Although I'm scared to death of deep water.
Last week I decided to take advantage of the Punxsutawney Area Middle School swimming pool and bought a month's pass. Saturday morning I went for my first swim, and the swimming instructor worked with me during the adult lap swim time. I learned a lot and determined by the end of 2015, I will be swimming laps - in the deep water.
Tuesday I went to my first water aerobics class. I loved it! This is exercise? I thought. I'd hoped to go today, but there's snow on the way - in the form of squalls - and bitterly cold weather. Same for Saturday. (My plan is to swim Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, and do the walk videos and use my elliptical machine the other days of the week.)
So what's a winter-weary writer supposed to do?
Then yesterday a writer friend posted a 5-minute walk video clip by Leslie Sansone on Facebook. I included it here, because this is the perfect break from writing--and it will keep the muse fired up.
When she was taking courses for her master's degree in education, my daughter researched and wrote a paper about the importance of physical activity to the mental process.
"Periods of inactivity longer than 20 minutes cause a drop in glucose and oxygen in the brain, resulting in a reduced ability to focus on, understand, and remember new information," she wrote.
"Movement has been shown to strengthen learning, improve memory and retrieval, and enhance motivation and morale. Movement increases the flow of blood and oxygen throughout the body, including the brain, which is needed to 'feed and create connections between neurons,'" she wrote.
"Exercise and movement also increase the number of neurotransmitters in the brain, which helps to maintain balance and the ability to focus attention and control impulses." (MTH note: impulses like wanting to eat carbs all day)
In light of this, it seems to me we writers need to work brief exercise stints into our days - to keep the blood flowing, maintain our focus - and keep the muse dancing.
To get the positive effects of negative ions, if you live in the country, take a walk.
Can't get outside? Don't have time for a one-mile walk? Then put on your sneakers and follow the five-minute walking video clip I put at the top right of this page several times a day. I'm going to do it four times a day: before breakfast, mid-morning, mid-afternoon, and before supper. That will give me a total of 20 minutes. So I get my exercise in for the day and keep my creative juices flowing at the same time!