So far, so good: Increased physical activity = productive thesis writing

2 May

I promised a little update to let you know how things were going.  So my previous post was about joining the gym as a thesis writing strategy. It’s been almost two weeks now, and I can honestly say it’s been great. I go for my usual morning run as soon as I wake, then I have alternated between taking a yoga practice class (Mondays & Thursdays) and just being in the gym (every other day). I have one exercise free day. My meyoga practice is around lunchtime and I like to go to the gym around 3pm. Dave the dog gets little walks often and I also go to my photography course on a Monday evening. So my progress to date:


Thesis writing going very well (2 chapters revisited, edited & sent to supervisors)

Focused and concentration levels good

Feel energised

Mood happy

Shoulder pain improved (but is still there)

Becoming more toned and feel less sluggish (as I often do after a whole day in front of the PC)

So all-in-all, increasing physical exercise has been very positive, with nothing negative to report. Even the time this takes cancels out the time spent away from writing due to all the above. This weekend is my weekend off, so am heading off  in the motorhome. PhD-free and my exercise will be long dog walks (9 miles planned on Saturday & 12 miles on Sunday)


8 Responses to “So far, so good: Increased physical activity = productive thesis writing”

  1. katyleighkennedy May 2, 2014 at 7:52 pm #

    Hi Emma, I’ve been reading your previous posts with interest. I’m doing a PhD in exercise psychology, and finding it ironic that I have to weld my bum to a chair in order to do so 🙂 Enjoy your exercise, and your weekend!

    • Emma Burnett May 5, 2014 at 2:35 pm #

      Hi Katy. Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment. Good luck with your PhD and hope you manage to get your bum out for some exercise too! ha ha 🙂

  2. silgtavares May 14, 2014 at 11:19 am #

    Hi Emma, you are obviously VERY disciplined! I was trying to go to the gym every morning, and was managing to so when I just had to write. But teaching makes everything harder. I write better in long stretches and, to me, breaking the day makes it very hard to go back to the task. I have also found that as soon as I wake up is the best time to write… So I have been struggling to find a time to go to the gym. I have just sent the complete draft to my supervisors, so will try to go back this week…. But it is SO hard to keep consistent! Hope you manage to keep going… It is great inspiration!

    • Emma Burnett May 15, 2014 at 7:46 am #

      Hi Silvia. Thank you for your feedback. I am very disciplined so this is working very well for me (although I probably should chill a little more!). I agree that teaching makes everything harder. I guess for me, I schedule my excercise to fit in with what works for me. I love to run in the mornings, I always have done – it helps clear my mind for the day ahead no matter what I am doing, but it certainly helps with writing. I have found while being off on full time study leave that going to yoga practice class/gym half way through the day helps get over that ‘afternoon slump’ and gives me energy for further writing. I guess it is all about scheduling in gym/exercise stuff to suit you – as you say you write better in long stretches and that you like to write as soon as you wake up so it may be that your gym time is preferable at the end of the day. Consistency is a challenge, but I look upon it as a way of life so it’s something I do as part of my day. Congratulations on your full draft! You are on your final stretch – do keep in touch and let me know how it goes. I found your blog so will have a read through. Best wishes, Emma

  3. Dani May 15, 2014 at 9:08 pm #

    Hello Emma,

    Nice work !

    Like you also really enjoy exercise but lately i have allowed myself to become consumed by writing. Im not really sure how to feel about this, it seems to be working but i wonder if i did start running again it would help my focus even more. I came across your blog using search terms like ‘thesis how much is too much’ as i am working very long days lately in order to pull all 5 central chapters together in the next few weeks. i heard about the hole and i think i am in it. In a good way. I worry about being boring, unsociable, a hermit, but I justify these feelings by telling myself it is not for too much longer. I was thinking of taking the campervan away for a long weekend into a vally for even more seclusion, I live in Manchester, UK.

    Well done for your focus and discipline, you are very close, enjoy it 🙂

    • Emma Burnett May 16, 2014 at 7:53 am #

      Hi Danielle. Thank you for dropping by and leaving a comment. I totally get where you are coming from. Sometimes you fear that if you interrupt that intense level of writing, you will lose the flow. I made a very conscious effort not to slip into that way of working because I knew in the long run it would have a detrimental effect on both my physical and mental well-being. Don’t worry about being boring/unsociable – I’m exactly the same. I just don’t have time to be sociable, but I actually quite like it! If I didn’t have my running/gym/motorhome trips however, I don’t think I would cope so well. I suspect that if you did start running again, it will have a very positive impact in every way, and yes, yes, yes to taking a long weekend in the campervan! Do drop by again and let me know how you get on. Now, go dust off those running shoes 🙂

  4. Johna113 June 16, 2014 at 6:35 am #

    Enjoyed examining this, very good stuff, thankyou. Talk sense to a fool and he calls you foolish. by Euripides. ceacfcffbkee


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