I love reading, but there’s no denying that the classical pastime of reading is a somewhat sedentary hobby. Of course, there is nothing wrong with indulging in a treat day all curled up in your favourite reading nook with tea on tap and a bowl of snacks once in a while, but for voracious readers, all the extra time spent sitting down because you desperately want to find out what happens next might be seriously affecting your health.
Healthy reading habits are especially important for readers who spend their days sitting down a lot. Office work, university, school, long commutes, all of it requires bums on seats for far longer than we’ve evolved to cope with. So how can you incorporate healthy habits into your reading time? Here are 5 suggestions which I’ve found work for me.
1 Tea break yoga
Yoga is basically magic. In exchange for ten, chilled out, sweat-free minutes whilst the kettle boils, you can super-boost your systems. Who needs an energy drink when you can just do some well-needed stretches (whilst remembering to breathe) for a shot of feel-good revitalising energy, and a bit of gentle strength conditioning! If you’ve never done yoga in your life it’s fine, check out YouTube. Erin Motz (the bad yogi) is my personal favourite but there is plenty of choice.
If you do a few different videos, you’ll soon learn how the poses flow from one to the next and will be doing your ten minutes unguided in no time. Of course, doing a bit of yoga whilst making a fresh cup of tea won’t turn you into a yogi master, but it will do those slouching muscles the world of good. It’s also a way to give your eyes a break too.
2 Make that exercise machine earn its keep
Once upon a time you brought an exercise bike and swore that you’d ride it for twenty minutes every day. Two years later and it’s still in the spare room, nothing but a dusty shrine to the motivated past you that brought it. Sound familiar? Well, I’m here to tell you that just because it’s an ‘exercise’ bike, doesn’t mean you can’t sit on it and pedal away gently whilst reading for 20 minutes. Of course, you’re not going to get super fit from just doing that, but you’ll get more healthy benefits than sitting on your sofa – and who knows, maybe you’ll get inspired to do even more exercise just for the sake of it?
This can work with a treadmill too, although it might take a bit more practice and I am not responsible for you getting so engrossed in your book that you forget to keep walking! You might have other options as well, like a stepper or maybe you could balance on a swiss ball.
You don’t have to spend your whole planned reading session on the move, just twenty minutes or so and stop when you feel like you’ve done enough. This is just about getting some movement into your reading routine!
3 Make yourself an exercise challenge
So maybe you’re reading this because you do actually want to see fitness results? This tip is genuinely about developing a bit more muscle or endurance. Exercise challenges are based on the idea of gradual improvement. An example would be a ’30 day squat challenge’ where every day you do an increasing amount of squats. They’re all over the net (especially Pinterest!) and there is one to suit every person of every ability, so why not turn a reading session into an exercise challenge? All you need to do is find triggers in your book to do an exercise, maybe hold a plank at the start of each chapter? Or do 10 sit-ups per character point of view change?
Repeating the same exercises means that you will get better at them and you will develop some strength. You won’t be entering the Olympics off of this kind of training regime, but you might find that your posture improves as your back and shoulder muscles condition, or that your daily activities get a bit easier as your endurance improves.
Make sure that whatever you choose, it starts at a level you are comfortable with and that you know how to adapt to things. For example, if you struggle with full body push ups, put your knees on the floor.
4 Hydrate whilst you read
We all know that water is good for you. It’s been drummed into us time and time again. And yet most of us, myself included, simply forget! So grab a water bottle (splash out on a cute one from your favourite fandom if it helps!), fill it up, and settle down in your nook with it in easy grabbing distance. You’ll be amazed how much more water you’ll drink (and how much better you’ll feel for it) just by making it nice and convenient to grab whilst you’re deep in a fantasy world.
5 Put the book down…
…And switch to the audio book instead!
Yes! Now is the era of the audiobook, and with WhisperSync technology you can quite literally put the book down and listen to it from right where you left off! Now that you’ve freed up your eyes, you can really get yourself moving. Why not go for a walk? Or a run? Maybe you can get in the gym and do some weights, or follow a body weight resistance session – all whilst staying in your fantasy world (although please keep a look out for hazards!)
I hope you’ve found some inspiration on how to be a healthy reader from these five tips. Not everything works for everyone and make sure you either understand your own body’s abilities or consult with a doctor before adding a new exercise regime to your day. Take things steady, make them a habit, and bit by bit you’ll notice a difference – you’ll feel like a healthy reader!
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