Maintaining physical fitness while freelancing.
“Women who reported sitting for more than 6 hours during their leisure time had an approximately 40% higher all-cause death rate, and men had an approximately 20% higher death rate.” – American Journal of Epidemiology
“Women who sat more than 7 hours a day and women who did no physical activity were more likely to have depressive symptoms than women who sat less than 4 hours a day and who met physical activity guidelines, respectively.” – American Journal of Preventative Medicine
“According to the World Health Organization, physical inactivity is the fourth leading cause to global mortality. Being a freelancer who primarily earns an income from my laptop, this puts me on the frontline for chronic diseases and that terrifies me.” – Fairytrail member
What’s even more scary, as I am writing this article, I am strengthening these statistics. Chances are that you, as the reader, are too.
Somewhere between the lavish lifestyle blog posts and “how I trained for my first 5k” video tutorials, a critical piece of information is silenced; the gruesome amount of sedentary hours that freelancers face.
Considering that there are over 57 million freelancers in the United States alone, this is a topic that needs consistent attention. To bring consciousness to the potential long term affects of a sedentary lifestyle, we must observe some of the short-term symptoms.
Here are some physical health struggles that freelancers regularly experience:
- Joint pain / stiffness
- Weight gain or unhealthy weight loss
- Bad posture & back pain
- Slow metabolism / digestion issues
- Easily fatigued from exercise
Most of these issues are simply caused by the excess of sedentary tasks and restrictions of range of movement. Whereas, 9-5 jobs in food service or hospitality require you being active on your feet for long hours. And considering that we are collectively experiencing the restrictions of COVID-19, those who regularly did their due- diligence of attending the gym are hindered as well.
But overcoming adversity is what fabricates the best entrepreneurs, right?
These burdens are not enough to counterbalance the benefits of being a freelancer, they are just conditions to note while entertaining this way of living.
So what are some ways to incorporate health & physical activity into your busy life?
1) Modify your tasks
That zoom call you have in 20 mins?
Maybe no one will mind if you are on a brisk walk during the call, or chime in between sets.That is if you use mute as needed that way no one is a victim to your awkward heavy breathing.
Just starting to brainstorm ideas on a new pitch or project?
Put down the pen, close the computer and brainstorm on the go. Get your blood moving and as ideas come to mind. Open up notepad on your phone and type or voice record them so that the can be marveled on later.
Don’t have time?
You are 100% right! You don’t have time, that’s why you have to make it.
I know that is a broken-record statement, But in all honesty we operate in a trifecta of the Mind, body , and spirit. This trifecta works like turning gears, and when one gear gets neglected, it isn’t a long grace period till the other gears suffer the ache as well. Lucky for you, being a freelancer demands being creative.
And MOVEMENT fuels CREATIVITY.
A study conducted in 2014 by Stanford University suggested that “out of the 48 participants, 81% improved their creative output while walking”.
As far as each individual goes, their creative juices are enhanced by 60% JUST BY WALKING. The experiment further claimed that extending your activity to the outdoors can expose even more benefits.
“Think about it, they are called creative juices for a reason, right? When you exercise, your heart rate increases, which sends more blood flow to the brain. As blood flow increases, your brain inherits more oxygen. Physical activity is not just for your body, it’s the key ingredient to helping your brain be a well-lubricated machine.”
You don’t need to go hard.
Any movement is better than none. As long as you are getting your heart rate up in some way to increase your blood flow, you will benefit. Use your creativity to innovate ways to weave movement medicine into your everyday life.
If you can find wiggle room, use it to wiggle!
2) Make movement your first priority.
We have all been there; Setting the alarm for 5:45 am in regards to squeeze some morning cardio in before you start your day. You turn to respond to your alarm and one of 2 things happen:
- You hit snooze and sleep in past your goals
- You find yourself knee-deep in emails and internal pressure to start crafting new content, completely putting AM movement on hold. Staaaahp. Don’t do this.
Remember a great benefit to being a digital nomad is having more time to yourself and not having to be rushed into a workplace everyday that has overhead.
Don’t let your phone or laptop be that overhead.
Your body is the vehicle that drives everything in your life and business. Don’t put it on the back burner.
3) Set the pace for the day.
As soon as your eyes open in the AM, your cortisol levels rise. Why not use that flight response to fuel a good morning workout? (which in return, will REDUCE overall stress). Not to mention, if you give yourself too much time, your entrepreneurial ego will negotiate “more important” things you can be doing with your time than tending to your health. Also, if you get your physical activity out of the way first thing in the morning, you will have the rest of the day to be working more effectively with a clean conscience knowing that you put your health first.
Benefits of A.M. workout include:
- You will burn up to 20%, due to being in a fasted state.
- Increases human growth hormone
- Sets the pace for a proactive mindset
- Mental clarity & increased alertness
- Lines you up for better sleep that night
But.. I’m really not a morning person
No problem! Everyone is different. If A.M. workouts come with too much resistance, then that may not be your peak hour to work-out.
“I have found that my workouts are more effective in the morning, but honestly some people feel they reap the most benefits from their workouts in the evening. A great way to determine whether your workouts are most efficient in the morning or evening is to listen to your body and journal your energy levels throughout the day. Whatever times of the day you’ve documented that you were the most energetic, try and plug in some physical activity during those times and see how you feel.”
4) Take care of your digestive system.
Your body digests food a lot better when it knows that it is going to actively need it, but if you are sedentary for most hours, your digestive tract may become sedentary as well.
If you are going to be sitting for a while, is it necessary to eat dense foods such as pizza and steak that digest slower and will sit in your stomach like a log? Fuel your body as necessary to your activity level. That way you dont experience a calorie surplus resulting in weight gain or calorie deficit, resulting in fatigue.
“Energy input should equal energy output – that’s the key! Know that your body is going to be using whatever you are putting into it. If you predict a slower-moving day ahead of you, adjust your food consumption accordingly.”
Chew slowly and thoroughly to ensure that your lax-day compensates your digestive system. Possibly drink tea or just warm liquids to nurture your metabolism throughout the day.
5) You don’t need a gym or equipment to have a killer workout.
Whether you are a freelancer who doesn’t have space for equipment during travels or a gym junkie who is deprived due to COVID-19 , it’s time to get innovative with your exercise.
Here’s a tip, YOUR BODY IS YOUR BEST DUMBELL. And no, i did not just call you dumb.
Your body is with you wherever you go (duh), might as well use it! Here are 50 bodyweight exercises that you can perform literally anywhere. If you want to add a little more heat, resistance bands are flooding the fitness industry. They are perfect for light traveling and can be used anywhere in multiple ways. If you are someone who is is interested in using technology as a fitness tool, check out out article on our recommended best fitness apps.
“ I have a good feeling that because of the coronavirus, people are going to start taking it upon themselves to integrate fitness into their everyday life rather than strictly going to the gym 2x a week. Gyms are amazing, but you don’t need them to get a great workout in. There is TONS of free workout content all over the internet that require very little space and no equipment. Most of them can be done in under 10 minutes! If you are someone that needs a little more guidance I suggest you find a fitness influencer that you truly vibe with and support them. You are helping them as they are helping you.” – Bella Gonzalez
James had a similar response when asked “what effects do you think this pandemic will have of the fitness industry?”
“I think people are going to come out of this quarantine feeling better than they did before. Overall, for some people, this was a very necessary pause to reset their mind, body, and spirit. A pause that has given them the time to consider what they value in their daily routine and to integrate activities to look after their well-being. You really only need a small space to perform a decent workout at any intensity level.” – James Leung
6) Your body can stand almost anything. It’s your mind that you have to convince.
“It’s important to keep your ‘mindful movement-toggle’ turned on in all circumstances. When you are traveling, find ways to marble physical activity into your vacation, that way you are not taking away from your experience nor are you neglecting your body. It doesn’t have to be anything crazy. It could be as simple as walking to your next tourist destination rather than Ubering, squatting with your backpack on, a short jog on the beach, taking the stairs to your hotel room rather than the elevator. Yoga mats and resistance bands are lightweight and you can use them anywhere. Seriously ANYTHING to get your blood pumping and to remind your body that you are always being mindful by finding ways to take care of it.” – Bella Gonzalez
“It’s easy to slip into an unmotivated mindset. But if you look around, you will find inspiration everywhere. If you are conscious of the science-backed reasons of how physical activity greatly improves your overall wellness, it becomes a no-brainer as to why you are going to do it despite any outside factors. Bruce Lee says, ‘think and you shall become’, if you think with a wellness mindset, a wellness lifestyle will start to surround you.” – James Leung
There will always be a way that your mind will try and convince you not exercise, but none of those reasons are valid.
Without your body & it’s optimal health, you wouldn’t be eligible to experience all the greatness life has to offer.
So rather than putting your health last, put it first!
James Leung is a traveller, wellness-teacher, trainer, and content creator for BALM. James is using his past education and inherited skills to apply them to his passion: Living and promoting a wellness lifestyle from anywhere in the world. When not travelling, James predominantly resides in London. Although he enjoys all things wellness related, he highly enjoys martial arts in yoga.
Next destination: Thailand.
Bella Gonzalez is a free-spirited freelancer/yoga teacher who uses her knowledge as a graphic designer to supply income and connect with the world while fulfilling her dreams of endless exploration. All-in-one package and a true go-getter.
Next destination: India.
Written by: Hannah Johnsen @hannahspeex