By Erika Volk
Writing for hours on end can be a wholly exhausting experience. Brain fog, distraction and feeling physically tired are just a few of the undesirable side effects of too much time in front of the keyboard.
As all too many writers know, this inevitable leads to the dreaded writer’s block.
As a freelance writer, if you could learn how to amplify your focus, creativity and ability to learn new things – all while reducing stress – would you?
What if I said you could banish writer’s block without the use of a computer or even a pen and paper?
If the answer is yes, I urge you to read on…
Scientists started uncovering the link between regular exercise and improved cognition long before blogging was a ‘thing’, let alone a profession.
If your writer’s block has you chasing after caffeine highs and wasting precious time on YouTube, a good work-out might be the solution to your problem.
Even if the health benefits of exercise are not appealing to you, the creativity-bolstering, focus-producing side effects of exercise should appeal to freelance writers everywhere.
Not convinced? Check out the research and stats:
- Aerobic exercise elicits creativity
On an average work day, I write new content, tweak my site’s SEO and review a recipe. I need to be creative all day!
In 2005, researchers at Rhode Island College found that college students who performed 30 minutes of aerobic activity prior to taking a test evaluating their creative thinking abilities scored significantly higher than those that took no exercise. (Blanchette 2005.)
- Fit people solve problems
Would you like to be 70% better than your competition? I know I’ll take any edge I can get!
The American Council on Exercise recently cited a nine-month study on the effects of exercise on 80 upper-level executives.
The study found that executives who exercised experienced a 22% increase in fitness and a 70% improvement in their ability to make complex decisions compared to their sedentary peers.
- Miracle Grow for your brain
According to Dr. John Ratey, author of Spark – The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, exercise causes your brain to create more brain-derived neurotropic factor (BDNF).
BDNF supports the survival of existing neurons in your brain and encourages growth and differentiation of new neurons and synapses. Ratey describes BDNF as being “Miracle Grow for the brain.”
- Improvements on your focus
Dr. Ratey also found that exercise has both a long-lasting and immediate impact on your ability to learn.
In addition to a boost in brain growth, exercisers experience 2-3 hours of heightened focus after a workout. Ratey says that just 8-12 minutes of sweating can improve your performance on complex cognitive tasks.
- Exercise levels out the highs and lows
One thing you can count on as a freelancer is that when it rains it will usually pour.
If you’ve been a freelance writer for any length of time, you’ll know that the stress of having an overwhelming workload is only second to the stress of not having enough work.
According to the Mayo Clinic, exercise helps you handle the ups and downs of freelancing by giving you a boost of the mood elevating endorphin, serotonin.
So how does all this banish writer’s block?
There is proof that exercise can make you more creative and better at solving problems. It can give you 2-3 hours of heightened focus, increase your ability to learn and reduce stress.
Do you think any of the above could improve your freelance writing career and banish those horrible writer’s block moments where you stare listlessly at a blank screen?
If you’ve been neglecting exercise for the sake of your career it’s time to switch that thinking around.
Even a small amount of regular exercise can improve some of the traits writers depend on the most to excel in their field. Give yourself a competitive edge and a healthier body by making exercise part of your professional development.
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Erika Volk blogs about how solo entrepreneurs, freelancers and business travelers can stay fit and healthy while pursuing their dreams. She is a certified personal trainer, Precision Nutrition certified coach, a digital nomad and entrepreneur. Subscribe to her newsletter to learn more about how to become fit and healthy without ever setting foot in a gym or supplement store. Check out her blog here: www.erikavolkfitness.com.
Image courtesy of shira gal via Flickr.