There are many unknown (or at least unpublished) costs of leading an academic life. The mental anguish can be extraordinary...from having most of your friends move each year towards distant locales, to dealing with the lack of logic, manners, and reason on the job search. And I have had to deal with this on many occasions.
Another cost (and one on which I would love to see a study) is the physical. The stress can take a real toll on one's body, and I have seen friends suddenly start to recover from long illnesses once they turn in their dissertation. It's almost like grad school tries to kill you.
What I've fallen the most victim to, however, is the complete sedentary nature of my career. I sit while I drive to class. I sit in my office while I hold conferences. I sit in my study while I write. I sit on my couch when I read and do research. My new laptop does allow me more mobility, but until they come up with a computer one can use while jogging or biking, us academics are, at least in terms of motion, gonna be physically inert.
My summer plans, in addition to the scholarship I must produce (3 articles, book review, completed manuscript...yes, I know I'm a dreamer), include an attempt to remedy the situation. I have an exercise bike, and I have committed to 30 minutes each day on the sucker. These are not happy minutes. I play music, and I have (in the past) tried to read while biking (doesn't work...the book gets all sweaty), but I still dread my rides. And I realize that an actual bike would provide scenery changes, and that would provide more intellectual stimulation, but it would most likely also provide crashes, wounds, injury...I am, after all, one of the least dexteritous people on the planet.
I've also tried to get out of the house each morning for a walk to a downtown coffee shop. This too is boring, in spite of my efforts to jazz it up by trying to take a different combination of streets and alleys each day, but the coffee is good, and it's still much more exciting than the bike/torture. Plus this way, I've been barked at by most of the dogs in town.
I've been at the bike since January and at the walks for about a month now, and I have seen some results already. It might even sound impressive if I were to list them in pounds lost, but if I think in terms of percentage of total, not so much. But it is something, and although I know I'll never be Kate Moss svelte, I do hope to eventually weigh less than most football players or Larry the Cable Guy. However, since seeing the endless parade of diet plan commercials, including one featuring Dan Marino and the aforementioned racist redneck stereotype comedian, I think they're on to me.
I'd like to think I have the willpower to stay at the workout regimen until I have undercut at least some of the effects of sitting around all day in the name of knowledge. Who knows? Maybe I'll get back into my 9th grade 24" waist jeans and earn my own weight loss commercial! I could become the Jared of Grounds for Thought coffee...although I don't really know the ethics of selling caffeine as weight loss impetus, and I don't want to be anywhere as annoying as Jared.
Will I be a shadow of my former self next time you see me?