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“It’s Not a Real Workout”

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Fitting Exercise into Pockets of Time

Greg Fishbone

Typing an action scene might feel like a workout. Drafting a romantic interlude might get your heart pumping. But planting your butt in a chair all day isn’t doing your cardiovascular system any favors. Prolonged periods of inactivity are unhealthy, which is why regular workout sessions are recommended for authors and other keyboard jockeys.

We all know this, but many of us don’t have a gym membership or, more importantly, the blocks of time and reserves of discipline required to prioritize our workouts, especially amid our looming deadlines and other daily commitments. Fortunately, a useful alternative may be as close as the floorspace next to your desk.

Microworkouts are short movement breaks spread out to fit whatever time and equipment are available. A microworkout might consist of a single set of deep squats, push-ups, sit-ups, jumping-jacks, or a brisk walk down the hallway and up a flight of stairs. It might even involve reclaiming the treadmill or exercise bike that’s been serving mostly as a coat rack.

Five minutes of moderate activity every hour, over the course of a day, can add up to a serious workout that can promote health, restore energy, and provide a boost in creativity, all without disrupting our writing momentum.

A few tips to optimize your microworkout routine:

·       Set an alarm or use an app to track the duration of your microworkouts and the intervals between them.

·       Experiment with timing and different exercises to refine the routine that works best for you.

·       Staying consistent will turn your microworkout routine into a positive habit.

·       Before any particularly strenuous exercise, warm up first with stretches or a brief walk to reduce the chance of injury.

As an added benefit, microworkouts during otherwise sedentary days will raise your baseline activity level even during more formal workouts, making those sessions more satisfying and productive as well.

And if this is still too much commitment, you can get even more refined. Do toe lifts while brushing your teeth. Toss in some squats or wall presses while waiting for your coffee. Dance along to your favorite song when it comes along. So release the expectations and use those pockets of time to fit in a microworkout.

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