About the Manual

The Nerd Manual is meant to be both a useful resource for nerds and a guide for the people involved with nerds. If you're a nerd you can find information here that will help you improve your life and perhaps better understand yourself. If you're close friends with, dating, or married to a nerd, I want to give you insight into things nerds do that a lot of people have difficulty understanding.

I hope to avoid offending anyone--either nerd or non-nerd--but please understand that the manual will get into some sensitive topics, stray into contentious territories, and even use stereotypes to illustrate points. It's OK to disagree with something, but keep your comments civil.


Nerd Q&A: Is There Such a Thing as Nerdy Fitness?

JD Hancock -[ beGIn m8rnInG w8rk8ut ]-
What are some nerdy hobbies for getting into shape?

Thanks to fitness trackers, pretty much any physical activity can be nerdy these days, but there are some choices better suited to nerds than others.

I know a lot of nerds who run. In fact, they love it so much I wonder if it's addictive. Running has the advantage of being dead simple to start, and almost zero expense. You should get some basic running shoes, although you can start with almost any kind of athletic shoes, then you can expand your training and investment depending on how far you want to go with it. My friends use all sorts of gadgets to track their progress, so it's almost like a real life video game. One potential downside: some people (like me) find running extremely boring.

Another option is cycling, it's pretty simple once you learn to ride, and requires only a moderate investment in equipment to start out. Once you have a decent bike you can ride pretty much anywhere. I like biking better than running because I can go much farther and faster, so I get to see different places each time. There's a world of equipment out there to suit any sort of rider, and it's easy to get sucked into developing the perfect bike and improving your efficiency. You can also add the gadget/video game equipment to this hobby as well. The two problems people face with cycling are transporting a bike if they want to start from someplace other than home, and road hazards. I don't ride much anymore because I had too many close calls with cars and trucks. If I lived in a smaller city or rural area I'd definitely take it up again.

I know a lot of nerds who play Ultimate Frisbee. The entry investment is nominal, so it's less expensive than something like biking, but you need to find a team and play according to a schedule. It's great exercise, usually non-contact so you're not getting tackled, and develops your hand-eye coordination and reflexes along with giving you a fantastic cardio workout.

The problem nerds have with many sports is the prevalence of medical issues such as asthma among nerds. (I personally believe nerds often become nerds because of their ailments, but that's a different article.) Sometimes we outgrow these problems and can pursue active sports later in life, but you can still get in shape even if you have a medical condition that keeps you from sprinting.

If you have a health problem, you can explore a variety of esoteric hobbies with easier to control intensity levels such as yoga, Pilates, rock climbing, martial arts, and weight training where you might find a substantial number of other nerds already involved. If you happen to live in Los Angeles, you can even check out Nerdstrong Gym, where their workouts have narratives based around nerd lore such as Star Wars and comic books. I'm not suggesting that these activities won't make you work up a sweat or increase your breathing rate, but you can usually adapt them to fit your limitations a lot easier than a sport like lacrosse. The current level of fitness technology also means that these activities can work on a level-up system much like video games, and you can spend a lot of time researching and collecting the best gear for your chosen sport.

My final suggestion is live action role playing (LARPing). This is an activity where you meet with several other people who perform the parts of characters in a role playing game such as Dungeons and Dragons, but they act out the actions rather than restricting their games to a table top. You get to solve puzzles and defeat evil while walking/running around outside. Combat is actually enacted with padded weapons. This also has the nerdy component of crafting your costume and weaponry to suit the story. You can use The Larp List or search Google for LARP and the name of your city to find a group in your area.

Whatever you choose, make sure it does two things:
  • gets your heart and breathing rate up so you're working your cardiovascular system
  • interests you so you keep doing it regularly

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