The Fit Freelancer

What you didn’t know about me is that in addition to bring a Freelance strategy and marketing consultant,  I’ve also been a fitness instructor for the past dozen years.  I became a fitness enthusiast on my 21st birthday.  On that day I realized that the clock was ticking and that it would make sense to do whatever was possible to preserve and protect my health and strength.

I ran one mile.  I made myself drink 8 glasses of water (a substance that I loathed) and promised myself to drink at least that amount every day.  I began to eat vegetables other than corn,  spinach or peas.  Soon thereafter I became a vegetarian and followed that regimen for about 15 years,  reintroducing meat to my diet only after peer-reviewed studies showed that red meat is a beneficial component of our diets,  providing the best source of protein and facilitating the absorption of minerals.

There are now thousands of studies that focus on wellness,  that is the benefits of regular exercise,  a healthy diet,  adequate sleep and supportive relationships.   Over the past 15 years or so,  psychologists and other social scientists have learned that regular exercise does much more than improve our physical beings.  Exercise impacts the way we think.  Statistically significant cognitive benefits of regular exercise include:

  • Improved concentration
  • Enhanced creativity
  • Faster learning
  • Sharper memory
  • Greater mental stamina
  • Lower stress

Regular exercise (defined here as three or four 45-minute workouts/week;  one mile swims/week;  or two-mile runs/week) has also been shown to boost self-confidence and cause our central nervous systems to produce endorphins and serotonin,  chemicals that are natural mood elevators.  Exercise makes us think more efficiently,  work more effectively and feel happier,  more confident and less stressed.  May I add self-discipline to the list of exercise benefits?  It takes real discipline to pull oneself out of bed at 4:45 AM on a freezing January morning and venture out into the icy darkness a few minutes later,  en route to the gym.

Surprisingly,  the time of day that we exercise matters and according to researchers,  daytime is best.  A 2008 study revealed that exercising during work hours (or before the work day) improves the ability to manage time;  increases one’s productivity; improves our interactions with colleagues; and leaves us still feeling good as we head home at the end of the day.

I will concur.  I always did my runs in the early morning and eventually,  I came to prefer early morning exercise classes.  I like to get my workout done before the events of the day have a chance to derail my schedule and I love the energy blast that early morning exercise gives me.  What a feeling of accomplishment I have as I waltz out of the health club door at 8:15 AM,   showered and dressed and ready to take on the day!

Regular exercise benefits everyone and I feel it is especially beneficial for Freelance consultants and business owners.  For us,  achieving and maintaining mental and physical stamina are a must.  Researchers offer a few suggestions that will support those of you who are about to introduce fitness into your lives:

  • Find a physical activity that you like,  because you will not continue otherwise.
  • Get a trainer and/or take fitness classes.  Commit to learning how to work out in a way that maximizes the benefits and minimizes the risk of injury
  • Get social.  Talk to people and make friends at your gym.
  • Join a team if you like team sports.  You will be compelled to practice (exercise) and play (more exercise).

I offer you my suggestions,  based on many years of gym membership and 12 + years of teaching fitness:

  • Join a gym that is convenient to your home or office,  to make it easy for you to get there.
  • Early morning is probably the most convenient time to exercise.  Develop your early morning exercise routine in spring time,  when mornings are brighter and waking up will be easier.

Thanks for reading,

Kim

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