Recent tests using MRI scans show that when people read novels different parts of the brain are activated according to what's happening in the book. If the protagonsit is engaged in a chase, the same parts of a reader's brain become active, as if they were also physically taking part i.e. they live the book. This comes as no surprise to those of us who like little more than to immerse ourselves in an exciting story, but it's good to have scientific proof.
Now, instead of going to a gym I shall read an action novel to get an equally effective work-out. As long as I steer clear of stories about sick people, hypochondriacs, couch potatoes or junk food junkies I can claim to be reading myself healthy.
If it works for readers, how much stronger might the effect be for writers? I fully intend to climb cliffs, cross deserts, fight fal-worms and more in the next few months. Maybe I'll end up suffering exhaustion. If I notice a difference, I'll let you know.