Health and Fitness

Don Braden is an advocate for healthful living. He firmly believes that central to maximizing the quality of your music and life is to take excellent care of your health. His own experiences, experimentation, and research have helped him develop clear strategies and tactics that help him maintain high energy for the joys and challenges of life’s journey. See below for some ideas; experiment and see what works for you! See Don’s article on Health and Fitness for Musicians in the June 2018 issue of Downbeat Magazine.

Resources for a Healthy, Strong Living for Musicians

Core Concepts


Based on years of research and experimentation, I recommend the following four ideas:

  1. Maintain a lifelong health-priority mindset

  2. Understand that every healthy choice has a positive effect

  3. Develop a set of practices to stick with consistently, at home and on the road

  4. Embrace the power of teamwork

A health-priority mindset means energizing your mind to feel strong and healthy 24/7, and embracing the joy and power of that feeling. Being weak is no fun, and being strong is awesome! It also guides daily choices like taking the stairs and not the elevator, walking instead of standing on the escalator or moving sidewalk, skipping the french fries and ordering a salad or baked potato, selecting brown rice over white, or getting up a few minutes earlier to do calisthenics. You can train your mind by setting clear health goals. Then take actions to support those goals: visualize (imagine how you want to look and feel), enact mental/verbal affirmations (“I am strong!”), read solid health information, and engage with inspiring people. Naturally, feeding your body excellent food also invigorates your mind as well!

Understanding the power of each choice means you can start health-positive actions right now, regardless of your current condition, and gradually get stronger and healthier. Even small actions help. You achieve the goal of doing 10 (or 100) push-ups a day by starting with one push-up – then keep going!

Developing healthy practices that stick involves knowing yourself and being able to distinguish the things you actually love from those to which you are addicted. It also involves knowing what motivates you and understanding your personal process for building new habits. The right diet or exercise plan – the one to which you would actually commit – can be very helpful. Most importantly, it involves keeping your daily activities consistent with your life and health goals. All these things require self-reflection, discipline, and solid information about healthy, strong living.

Embracing the power of teamwork means that interacting with the right people can be great for your health and fitness. In general, humans are far more effective in pairs or groups than alone, just like on the bandstand. Find a workout partner or class, a fellow health-conscious musician, a mentor or mentee, someone to cook or shop with, etc. – you will motivate each other. If you fear a lack of discipline in yourself, which is common, find the right teammates!

Informative Websites


HIIT Workouts

Check out this insightful article describing the benefits of HIIT (high intensity interval training), and how it compares to standard cardio work.


Martin Berkhan

Martin was the first to write about Intermittent Fasting for fitness and health. Unconventional guy, but very knowledgeable.


The Mayo Clinic

The Mayo Clinic is one of the leading health providers in the world. Their website has all kinds of health and medical info.

World’s Healthiest Foods

This site has detailed descriptions of many healthful foods. (This is an archival site but it still has great information.)


James Clear

James is a blogger who writes excellent articles answering the question: “How can we live better?”

Environmental Working Group

This organization has researched many household products and assigns letter grades according to health effects and environmental impact.


The Alexander Technique

Learn to move as nature intended; learn to heal various types of injuries.

Dr. Josh Axe

The Dr. Axe website has detailed descriptions of all kinds of foods.


Matt Townsend – The Musician Fitness Trainer

Matt has made it his mission to share with the jazz community his many years of experience as a Personal Trainer. He’s also a fine saxophonist!

JEN Panel 2022

Take Excellent Care: How to Maximize Your Vitality, Productivity and Creativity Via Smart Health and Fitness Practices