Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Faculty Post - Bruce Brown - Healthy Body, Healthy Life!

This week's blog post is by Assistant Professor of Voice, Mr. Bruce Brown.

I thought I would discuss a topic in this week’s blog covering the importance of taking charge of one’s body as being an important decision for a professional musician.  

Trust me, taking charge of your body is a lot easier than many might think.

Most everyone who has known me over the past 3 decades might label me fixated on being somewhat of a health nut.  Health nut?  Really?  What exactly is a health nut?  Let’s examine the nuttiness of it all by asking one simple question.  How difficult is the discipline required to maintain one’s health through a lifestyle choice of physical exercise and sound nutrition?  

Before I address that question, just let me say that I am not here to berate anyone – student, faculty, parent, or friend – about the choices they make.  The topic might be best focused around the choices that people do not make, rather than the ones they do make.  We might easily make a choice to spend 30 minutes a day on Facebook and the Internet.  We might easily make a choice to spend 30 minutes a day vocalizing, or practicing our instrument.  We might easily make a choice to spend 30 minutes a day blowing off steam doing absolutely nothing.  We might easily make a choice to spend 30 minutes a day texting, or talking on the phone.  We might easily make a choice to spend 30 minutes a day staring at the television.  We might easily make a choice to spend 30 minutes a day studying or reading.   We could go through the day’s routine of each and every one of us to find where we all easily make choices to spend time doing the things we feel are important.

How difficult is it to make the choice to spend 30 minutes a day doing moderate aerobic exercise?  How difficult is it to do 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic activity?  Okay, okay.  I know you want to know what it is I am blogging on about.  What is moderate aerobic activity not to mention what the heck is vigorous aerobic activity?  Moderate is the easy form of exercise.  Mowing the lawn.  A brisk walk to class qualifies as moderate aerobic activity as does a brisk walk from one end of the mall to the other.  So does going for a casual swim.  Vigorous (the kind I like and crave) is running, cycling, full out dancing like we did in the 1970’s, swimming on the swim team, bumping things up a notch so you are out of breath, the heart is pounding and the sweat is dripping from limb to limb.  Oh yeah!  Give me a dose of that.  

The more you do of both moderate and vigorous aerobic activity – the more the weight is shed and the health benefits start to add up.   Throw in working with some weights twice a week to boost one’s metabolism – and now we are talking about utilizing some of the minutes in the day to boost our physical and mental health.  

Ah – there’s the lifestyle choice that many seem to want to avoid.  The discipline of building 150 – 300 minutes per week of exercise into our schedule seems too daunting.  It’s not if we simply build it into our schedule.  The simple addition of an exercise routine allows us to take control of what our body is – an instrument – so we can play it and utilize it for our music making.

I discovered early in life that exercise really made me feel good.  What was it that made me feel good?  I now know, it was the endorphin release, the adrenaline release, the stress reduction, the boost in self-esteem, and the benefits of looking fit and healthy.   I liked it all.   I was running and riding bikes for exercise back in the 1970’s.  And that has continued to this day – all as a part of my normal routine.   

We know that regular exercise has many benefits.  It is a stress reducer, improves one’s sleep, fights anxiety (great thing to fight for performing musicians – nicht wahr?), reduces body fat, strengthens bones, increases energy levels, fights depression, lowers blood pressure, is healthy for the heart, releases chemicals to make you feel good and on and on.  Who wouldn’t want all of that?  Pass the plate filled with all of that stuff right over here so I can have seconds, please.

Call me a health nut if you want.  However, I would be the first to advise all other musicians to grab some of the nuttiness I have come to enjoy the past 3 or 4 decades.  You will feel better, perform better, sleep better, eat better, and look better all due to a simple choice of physical discipline.  

The choice is yours.

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