image of a person pinching flabJanuary is the time of year when everyone dives into fitness. And why not? The new year offers you a fresh slate. Erase all the negative memories of last year’s healthy living resolutions that wound up drowning in a tub of Blue Bell Magic Cookie Bar ice cream and begin anew.

I’ve written metaphorically about exercising your writing muscles and using blogging as a creative exercise. Today I’m talking about real physical fitness. As in: your body. Your health. You may think your success or failure as a freelance nurse writer rides on the snappiness of your prose, but I’m telling you the spring in your step will make or break you.

Walk your way to creativity – it’s just up the stairs, through the door and around the block

Here’s a freelance truism: physical fitness drives creativity.

If you don’t believe me, try taking a brisk walk while re-working a sentence from a recent health story you wrote. You know — that one sentence you left in passive voice because, honestly, you didn’t have the energy to rewrite it. Yeah, that one. Rewrite that baby while you’re outdoors getting some fresh air and pumping your legs. You’ll be surprised how many (better) phrases you come up with. Take a pad and pencil; you’ll need them.

When you transition from nursing to writing, you will be moving into a sedentary lifestyle. You will be committing to long hours in an office chair, typing. Spoiler alert: typing doesn’t burn many calories. Typing doesn’t contribute to cardiovascular health. Keyboarding doesn’t ignite creativity. Physical activity does all that stuff.

Feel free to plagiarize the fitness life of other writers

You don’t need to reinvent the fitness wheel. Copy what other people do. Here are five ways I incorporate physical activity into my freelance life — feel free to do the same.

1. Exercise for 10 minutes as soon as you wake up. I do 10-15 minutes on my rowing machine each morning. Benefits: I wake up faster, my energy level goes up for the whole day and my mood skyrockets. You don’t need a rowing machine (or treadmill or whatever) to make this work. Just get up and move your body for 10 minutes each morning. Walk the dog, walk yourself, turn on a DVD and jump around. Don’t kill yourself. I’m not talking vigorous exercise, just something to get your heart pumping a little.

2. Go for a walk every afternoon. Studies continue to crown walking the king of cardiovascular exercise. Anyone, at any fitness level, can do it. It’s free and requires no special equipment.

Today's blog inspiration courtesy this egret, whom I spied picking bugs off the banks of the bayou during my walk today.
Today’s blog inspiration courtesy this egret, which I spied picking bugs off the banks of the bayou during my walk today. Thank you, Mr/Ms Egret.

3. Schedule breaks into your workday. I’m a fan of the Pomodoro technique because it ensures I get up and move about periodically. When I reach the end of each pomodori, I go up and down the stairs several times, walk around in my backyard, play with the dog or whatever physical activity sounds appealing at the time.

4. Keep it up on the weekend. I incorporate a minimum of 10 minutes of fitness into every day of my week. On Sundays I sometimes do only my morning workout on the rower and then give my body the remainder of the day to rest.

5. Get a gadget. I use a Jawbone UP MOVE. Some of you may own Fitbits. Some of you may own Fitbits that you tossed in the back of your underwear drawer when you abandoned them last July as you consumed that pint of Blue Bell Magic Cookie Bar ice cream. As a nurse, I’m not a fan of “step counting,” per se. Intensity matters when it comes to exercise. But my MOVE serves as a nag to…well, move more often. It reminds me to get stepping. Because I have a competitive nature, the MOVE offers a way for me to compete against myself. “I did 6394 steps yesterday? Well, then, I’m going to make sure I hit 6395 today!”

 As I always say: If I can do it, you can do it. Start with 10 minutes of continuous activity per day. That’s all it takes! As soon as the benefits hit you — the energy charge, the mood lift, the new lilt in your prose — you won’t need convincing to remain a fit freelancer.

Wishing you well,