In 2018, the year I turned 60, I vowed to pay more attention to my health and less to the bottom line. As a result, I made less than half of what I had earned the year prior. Even so, I had weight-loss surgery, developed into a serious Tai Chi student, and started studying yoga as well.
This year, I’m working to integrate the success of the past two years into a balanced, healthy life. I want to remain focused on my health, because I have about 50 more pounds to lose and I want to be an active grandma when the possibility presents itself. But I also want my business to be as successful as possible.
I’ve surprised myself by developing and sustaining an excellent exercise habit for the first time in my adult life. I’m walking at least 10,000 steps a day. I take both Tai Chi and yoga twice a week and I do cardio and weight-training at the gym at least twice weekly.
Even more surprisingly, I’m finding that fitness is benefitting my work. Yes, I take hours away from the computer every day to exercise. Still, the hours I devote to my writing and editing are more efficient and streamlined. Best of all, I’m happier, calmer, and more fulfilled all around than ever.
It’s puzzling to me, and seemingly counterintuitive, that I can devote fewer hours or labor to produce the same productive output while increasing the quality of my work.
For answers I looked to some of the world’s most well-known writers and scientists. Albert Einstein walked the mile and a half from his home to Princeton where he taught classes, and was known to lecture as he and his students walked the campus grounds.
Charles Dickens, an avid walker, would write each day from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and walk for the rest of the day, sometime logging 20 to 30 miles at a time.
Henry David Thoreau wrote in his journal that walking made him more productive: “Methinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow.”
Writing on Medium.com, Debby Germino discusses her participation in the 30-Day Stoic Challenge. The hour-long walk that was part of the challenge became a habit that offers her joy and contemplation, Germino says, and became something she looked forward to every evening.
I have found that my body is happy to be engaged in movement again. After years of debilitating arthritis, my joints are strengthening and growing less painful as I move them regularly. My cholesterol level and blood pressure are both normal, I’m off all my diabetes medications, I’ve lost 80 pounds, and I’m only taking a couple of pain pills a day, down from eight.
To say that daily walking and exercise have benefitted my health is a no-brainer. But I am convinced that movement has improved everything, from my relationships to my professional life. My work flows better, I’m sleeping more, and I find my emotions are well-balanced. The time outside, away from devices helps me to focus and approach my projects with a clear mind.
If you are stuck in a sedentary job like I’ve been for so many years, I urge you to find a way to integrate regular exercise into your life and make it a habit. Even if it weren’t a big part of my weight-loss journey, I’m convinced regular movement has improved everything in my life. I know it can do the same for you.