Speaking is physically exhausting. This is something most people I work with find surprising. Some training sessions leave people breathless and hearts racing. “Why am I so tired afterwards?” they ask.
I assure them that it isn’t because they are completely out of shape (most of them aren’t).
It’s because speaking takes a hell of a lot of physical work.
Think about this for a moment: how much activity is going on in your body when you are having a good, lively conversation? Well, to start there is the work involved in breathing and vocalizing, both of which engage your core and abs (yes, everyone has abdominal muscles). There is lots of flexing and engaging and sustained isometric contractions when you’re controlling your breathing to speak. Now think of what you are doing with your hands and arms. If you are engaged in the conversation, it’s pretty unlikely they are resting limply at our sides. What about your face? The muscles there are small, yes, but they’re pretty darn active right now, too. And don’t forget that there is often a physical toll when we’re putting a lot of emotion and heart into what we’re saying. That alone can get our hearts pumping.
Now have this lively, engaged conversation while going for a walk. It’s hard not to get a little breathless while we’re walking and talking. Most public speaking is done from a standing position, and speakers work that stage! What’s more, we don’t get a break. In conversation, the person you are talking to will say something at some point, which gives you a minute to catch your breath. Not so for the speaker – by and large, we’re monologuing. That brisk walk-and-talk has to go on for a while, and there is little respite.
In an interview, Tony Robbins said that he wore a fitness tracker during one of his weekend events. The physical effort of so much enthusiastic speaking ended up being worth several marathons.
Maybe you aren’t giving a marathon-like speech like Robbins (he is a fireball on stage), but you are still putting in a heck of a lot of physical work.
It would be worth walking a few extra blocks every day to make that effort easier, no? It’s just one more reason to get more exercise.