Book Nerd’s Guide to Mind-Body Multitasking: 4 Ways to Exercise Your Brain and Body

Keira Knightley multitasking her reading and walking in Pride and Prejudice.

Keira Knightley multitasking her reading and walking in Pride and Prejudice.

If you started 2013 with ambitious resolutions around exercising, you may already be feeling frustration. Let’s face it: Sneaking exercise into your day can feel difficult if you have other time commitments (and who doesn’t?), and can feel especially tough if you don’t usually exercise or if you have to brave the icy cold to get outside or to the gym. To ease into things, it can be helpful to simply start incorporating a little exercise here and there. This means try those trite-but-true words of advice such as park far away from the store, take the stairs instead of the elevator, go for a lunch walk, stand up and stretch periodically, and pair a bit of exercise with another activity.

Even better, if you’re a book nerd, you can increase the chances you’ll develop an exercise habit by incorporating it into some of your bookish activities. Here are four ideas to try.

1. Use the time you spend to doing dishes or chopping vegetables to exercise and plan your next story. Hold your stomach in tightly, stand up straight, and do leg lifts (side and back) and pliés for toning, stand on one leg for balance (and to strengthen ankles), and march in place for some extra movement. (Check out these ballet boot camp videos on Youtube to get ideas for moves you can adapt to a more stationary stance.) And two tasks aren’t quite enough for a smarty pants like you, add a third task: Plan your next writing session, think about your characters, or brainstorm your next essay. As Agatha Christie said, “The best time for planning a book is while you’re doing the dishes.” Don’t let that precious time go to waste.

2. Read your book on the elliptical or stair climber. Many find these machines incredibly boring, but at least they’re great for working up a sweat. Make them do double duty: Bring your latest book club pick and some ear plugs to drown out the gym music, and the time will pass more quickly. It may be true that you won’t work out as hard, but at least you’re working out. And consistency—which depends on at least a certain amount of pleasure—is key.

3. Listen to audiobooks on the treadmill or on a run. The treadmill can be pretty crucial in these (for some of us, at least) icy winter months. But it’s not nicknamed “dreadmill” for no reason. I’m also no fan of the treadmill/TV-two-inches-from-your-face combos that seem to be popping up everywhere. Of course, great running music can be extremely helpful to pass time on a treadmill, but audiobooks work surprising well too. Though I definitely prefer reading books for myself, audiobooks such as Haruki Murakami’s What I Talk About When I Talk About Running (one of my all-time favorite books in all forms) and Dean Karnazes’ 50/50, have helped me clock upwards of six miles on the treadmill and even longer runs outside. Those two books are highly motivational—the first is about writing and running and the relationship between the two, and the second is about pushing oneself. I suspect that motivational aspect may be helpful to stamina, but I think the main thing is to get books (or podcasts) that you think you’ll enjoy.

4. Start a walking book club. I’ve so often found that the best conversations happen with a walking or running partner. Walking or doing another exercise (hiking, running, cycling) with a friend or family member is such a great way to spend time together, and pairing that idea with a book discussion creates such an enjoyable way to marry multiple loves (or at least court some exercise love). And since you can chat on your cell to connect, you can even do this with someone who lives in another part of the country.

Image via Pride & Prejudice Blog



Filed under Health/Wellness, Running, Writing/Books

3 responses to “Book Nerd’s Guide to Mind-Body Multitasking: 4 Ways to Exercise Your Brain and Body

  1. Melissa Crytzer Fry

    Such FABULOUS ideas, Diann. I’ll need to start those leg lifts in the kitchen tonight. But, as you know, I’m a huge fan of the e-reader/treadmill combo. SO helpful to killing two birds with one stone (and takes the ‘dread’ out of dreadmill for SURE). I wish I could listen to audio books while running outside, but I must be VERY aware of my surroundings, since many a desert critter has snuck up on me: bobcats, coyotes, javelinas and their babies!

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