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The Importance of Staying Physically Active as a Freelancer

The Importance of Staying Physically Active as a Freelancer

As a freelancer, we wear all the hats. We have to do the work of several people sometimes. It’s very easy to let time get away from us. It’s not uncommon to sit for hours upon hours in front of your computer, working your ass off. We love what we do and we have a lot to do! Business is booming! That is great, but we can’t let our health suffer because of it.

Let me share a story with you that will hopefully stress just how important staying physically active is.

I’m not generally one to share a lot of super personal information about myself, but by the end of this article you are going to learn quite a bit about me. I’ve given this quite a bit of thought and have decided to go ahead with it in hopes it can serve as a cautionary tale to some of you younger freelancers out there and drive home the point of just how important this topic is.

My Story – I Was Always Active

I was always a very active individual. In my very early years, before junior high, I was part of the generation that headed indoors right at dusk as my mother was calling my name loud enough to be heard for several city blocks. (Because I very well may be a couple blocks away at any particular time.)

If I wasn’t riding bikes on four-wheeler trails in the patch of woods a couple hundred yards from my front door, I was at a neighbor’s house playing basketball with their kids, or at a different neighbors house that had a yard big enough to draw boundaries on to form a makeshift football field where we’d play tackle football if no parents were around to watch (2-hand touch otherwise) or a baseball field where some dingers busted up some siding on one particular house and a window on at least one occasion.

I Played Sports In School

Just before junior high, when I was in 5th and 6th grade, I was able to play flag football. This was the beginning of my “sports career”. I fell in love with football even more than I already was.

I was so dorky at 11, but active!

Once I reached 7th grade, I traded in flag football for “real”, tackle football! As a 5ft 11inch close to 200lb kid, I made a great center on offense and nose-guard on defense. I didn’t even realize just how much fun I was having all through junior high and high school, playing football on Friday nights, and in the summers having “two-a-days” practices.

I Even Played Sports After School

After high school, I remained active by joining a local roller-hockey team that formed at my local skating rink. My uncle, a friend of his, and myself were all pretty hardcore hockey fans but could barely stand on skates. We joined up with a few guys that were skating prodigies but didn’t know shit about hockey. They taught us to skate, we taught them hockey.

After we could stand up and kind of move around on skates and the other guys knew the basic rules of hockey, we called up the closest team to us and challenged them to a scrimmage. This was the first game-like situation we’d been in. We were so excited! They beat us 32-0.

I had the anger of Happy.

Now, I don’t know if you know much about hockey but a typical hockey score is something like 3-2 or 1-0. Double digit goals, even with the scores combined, are kind of rare.

We Practiced For Hours Each Day

At the end of that first season, our last game we played was against this same team that embarrassed us in that scrimmage. We lost in overtime 6-5. That is how far we had come as a team! That should show you just how much we practiced.

I tell you all of this to show you I WAS ACTIVE AF!

I was a gym-goer for years as well. I had a few physical jobs on top of all of this.

I Worked Some Physical Jobs

For a while, I was a kitchen manager in a restaurant. If you have ever worked in a restaurant, you know how physically demanding that can be.

I also, for about 4 years, was a laborer for masons, mixing mortar and carrying blocks. (This was when I was probably in top physical condition of my life. I was always a bit on the chunky side, but a healthy chunky.) This takes us into my late 20s.

Now, I’m 41 years old as of this writing. I’ve been freelancing, or at least working from home, for the last 12 years or so. As life got busy and I had to shift my focus more on work so I could afford life, I slowly became less and less active.

I Became Less Active and Worked More

When you are working from your computer, sitting on your ass all day – every day, your health can start to suffer. You don’t even notice it at first. You slowly start to put a few extra pounds on, you lose muscle tone, and in my case, I had to eventually be put on high blood pressure medication.

That should have been a wake-up call for me but it wasn’t. That didn’t come until a little over a year ago when I ended up going to the ER because my glucose levels were over 600! The little machine my cousin talked me into letting her use on me just said “HIGH” when she checked it for me. It reads up to 600. When they took it at the ER, it was 657. The machine was right. I was having a medical crisis.

The Wake Up Call

I was diagnosed with diabetes. This one did wake me up! That is much scarier than slightly elevated blood pressure.

I don’t tell you this to gain your sympathy. I’m doing much better now. I’ve made some dramatic changes to my lifestyle and it has paid off tremendously. I was lucky to have caught this when I did so now I can focus on a healthier lifestyle and possibly reverse this one day.

The reason I tell you all of this is because I want it to scare you. I’m serious. That’s the only thing that made me realize how important this all is, is fear. So I hope this serves as a warning, a wake-up call of your own – so you don’t have to come to this realization laying on an uncomfortable bed in your local Emergency Room.

When you love what you do, and I’m sure you feel the same way about your work as I do about mine because freelancing just kicks so much ass, it is easy to get wrapped up in working all the time and neglecting other areas of life, your health included.

You don’t have to make the same mistake I did though. You can avoid all of this by just following some of the advice below.


5 Benefits of Physical Activity

You don’t have to schedule two hours every day at the gym, but when making out your freelancing schedule, remember to schedule some physical activity. You’ll benefit in several ways, including:

1. Better Mental Health

As freelancers we wear a lot of hats. We aren’t just doing the work we love to do, we are bogged down with the day-to-day running of our business as well. We are constantly juggling contracts and projects. When we are exercising, we don’t have to think about any of that. It’s a moment with ourselves and only ourselves.

2. Reducing Stress

Physical activity is proven to help reduce stress, and god knows freelancers have an extra helping of stress on a daily basis. We can use these physical active moments to contemplate and refocus on the essentials. Think of it as a cleansing of the mind.

3. Better Sleep

When I’ve been physically active a lot in a day, I always sleep so much better! My sleep schedule still isn’t perfect but it has gotten much better since I’ve started incorporating regular exercise in my daily routine.

4. Improved Concentration

According to an article titled The Mental Health Benefits of Exercising “Exercising regularly is one of the easiest and most effective ways to improve concentration, motivation, memory, and mood. Physical activity immediately boosts the brain’s dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin levels—all of which affect focus and attention.”

5. Improved Immune System

This Healthline article says: “According to a 2019 research review, moderate-intensity exercise can stimulate cellular immunity by increasing the circulation of immune cells in your body. This helps your body better prepare for a future infection by detecting it earlier”


How To Stay Physically Active as a Freelancer

As freelancers, we spend a lot of time alone. I know my relationships have suffered since becoming a freelancer and working from home. You have to make time to see people. If you’re going to incorporate a daily exercise routine into your schedule, you’ll be able to stay much more motivated if you have a partner to hold you accountable.

SCHEDULE TIME FOR EXERCISE

I think I mentioned this earlier but it is worth noting again, when making your schedule for the day or week, be sure to include a time slot just for exercise! If we don’t schedule it in, it is much less likely we will get it done.

STAND UP FROM YOUR CHAIR REGULARLY

Most of us freelancers spend the majority of our time sitting in our chairs in front of our computers. It’s easy to get lost in our work and before you know it, half the day is gone, you’ve sat in the same spot for 4 hours. Set timers if you have to, but remind yourself to stand up and stretch every now and then.

I’m still somewhat guilty of this and as I’m writing this, maybe I’ll take my own advice and set some timers.

At least once each hour you should take a minute or two to stand up and stretch. Even walk around the house a bit. Being sure to do this goes such a long way and you’ll notice right away that your day doesn’t seem to be so long. It not only allows us to get a little movement but gives our minds a much needed break and helps avoid burnout.

Join The Y

Most cities have a YMCA. Here is what their main website says to welcome you:

“The YMCA is the leading nonprofit committed to strengthening individuals and communities across the country. At the Y, we’re here to help you find your “why” – your greater sense of purpose – by connecting you with opportunities to improve your health, support young people, make new friends and contribute to a stronger, more cohesive community for all.”

Not only is this a great way to get exercise as they have a gym and a pool (swimming is terrific low-impact exercise) but also a great way to meet others in the community.

Wrap Up

Your mental and physical health is very important!

I heard that statement a lot in my life but I never really stopped to appreciate it.

Please do.

Time goes by quickly and the way we are wired as humans, we often don’t realize things until they personally affect us. You aren’t invincible and no one is immune to time. Your health will fail you one day but the more active you stay now, the further away that day will be!

What are some ways you stay active? Do you have any advice or words of encouragement for others? Share that with us in the comments below.

About The Author

JD Simpkins

JD Simpkins is the creator and founder of GroLancer, The Freelancer's Growth Platform. As a web developer, he fell in love with freelancing back in 2005. He has mentored many up-and-coming freelancers over the years and developed a passion for helping others work towards their dreams. He used a lot of tools to run his freelancing business and remembers how expensive this became. That's when he decided to build GroLancer, not only to share information with aspiring and established freelancers but wanted to offer all of the tools a freelancer needs to run their business and make it affordable to everyone, no matter what level they are at in their career!

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