Face it. We nerds (or geeks, or whatever name we want to throw proudly on ourselves) have never been pinnacles of exquisite physique. Heck, many of us fall far above or below what constitutes optimum body fat. However, while many people would be content with simply going outside or enrolling in a gym, we shy away from these obvious solutions. For some, the reason may just be a minimal amount of social skills. For others, a genuine fear of new experiences. Others just may not like crowds of people, especially when in compromising positions. Running on an elliptical bike for your first time may knock you out in a few minutes and dealing with others’ judgement, real or imagined, is never something to look forward to.
You may ask yourself how this just applies to nerds. Isn’t this the same dilemma that any out of shape person deals with? What makes nerds so different?
The very things that set us apart from many in society is how strongly we cling to our individual niches of nerd-dom. Our free time is spent playing video games, watching science fiction television shows, and reading comic books. To go exercise is to tear ourselves away from our passion and to devote precious time to things that we barely want to be doing in the first place. So here are some little things that allow you to focus on your nerdy pastimes while still getting a small workout in the process.
I have found that biking on an exercise bike while video gaming is a terrific way to get a good amount of exercise. Your attention is kept away from what your legs are doing so you may not even realize how good of a workout you can get. With a modern sitting bike you can relax your upper body and even play a handheld device in relative comfort.
At first I thought I would only focus on games that were a bit slower paced, like RPGs. I did not think I would be able to keep my legs going at a constant pace while at the same time running and gunning on an action game. It turns out that those action games are much better for the exercise portion of the whole ordeal.
I have my exercise bike in the basement in front of the TV with a PS2 attached to it, so I’m limited to that system and any handhelds I brought down. One night I decided that rather than keep playing Final Fantasy VI for the GBA on my DS, I popped in Star Wars Battlefront 2 into the PS2. Once again I lost track of time while playing that game, which only added to the workout I received. Not only was the time extended, but I found that whenever I had my rebel soldier run through the battlefield, my legs attempted to do the same. As a result my biking distance and calories burned increased.
My best workout night was the night I decided to finish off my game of Metroid: Zero Mission for the GBA. I plugged it into my DS and began my cycling. While playing though the final area where you have to use stealth, I found myself getting Samus caught just about every time I needed to sneak through a new area. Therefore, I need to run. A lot. Again it translated to more leg movement. The fact that I continued to have Samus die even had a positive impact as I didn’t stop biking until I was finished with the area.
Through my process I have found that the faster I need to move in the game, the more I move in real life. We all project ourselves into these video game characters and this is a way for these projections to return to us and positively affect our lives. Now maybe I should play some Sonic games…
The other workout modification I came up with has to do with an entirely different subset of nerd-dom: Comic books. I have a medium-sized comic collection, mostly collected in trade paperback format. I’m sure I am not alone in that I can read a few of these an evening without feeling that the night has been wasted. So rather than simply sit and eat while reading, I fit in a little exercise.
While reading through a trade paperback, simply do a set of pushups between each issue. Read through the first issue of the book, then do a set of pushups. While relaxing and cooling down from the set, you’re reading another issue. Repeat. This not only spaces out your exercise sets but gives you breathing room between comic issues as well. It is even possible to change the time between your sets by which type of trade you choose to read. An old Marvel set from the ’60s will have long breaks while a newer series will have you doing pushups every couple of minutes. There are paces for everyone.
Try these little exercises out. While the video game one requires a somewhat pricey piece of equipment, the comic book one needs nothing but your arms (apologies to those without arms). Feel free to share any other nerdy ways to keep yourself in shape or what particular video games and comics have worked best for your workout.