I work an 8-5 desk job which means majority of the time, I’m sitting on my ass. It’s not the healthiest lifestyle, so I try to be active when I can. I try to go for walks during my break and lunch, but this cuts into my peak reading time so I have to sacrifice one for the other cause I’m not about to walk down the street and risk getting hit by a car for a book (yes, even you Catcher in the Rye). I try to work out when I get home, but I’m also just really lazy and unmotivated by the time I get home. And then when I do force myself to get on the treadmill, I usually give up right away because running and walking for 30 mins can get pretty boring (in case you didn’t notice, I am the Queen of excuses).
I found a potential solution the other day when I was watching one of the greatest movies of our time: Legally Blonde. I’m referring to the scene when Elle Woods is trying to prove herself as a Harvard student and you see her exercising on a treadmill while reading one of her textbooks. And I thought, why haven’t I tried that yet? So I did.
I attempted this for a few days with three different exercises: treadmill, exercise bike, and hula hoop.
First of all, I didn’t run on the treadmill because I have a hard enough time trying to control my breathing when I’m already focused so I decided to do a walking workout that consisted of changing speeds and inclines for 30 minutes. Update, I only almost fell off once.
This one I only did for 10-15 minutes at a time because I am weak and thought it was a smart idea to set the bike to the hardest setting (why? I still don’t know). This was somewhat easier for me when it came to reading because I was able to sit and not worry about falling off (unlike the treadmill. Traitor).
The hula hoop I would do for 30-40 minutes at a time, interchanging between clockwise and counter clockwise rotations. No risks of falling here, just really sore ribs.
What books were my guinea pigs? Zodiac, an examination of the notorious Zodiac killer’s motives and its prime suspects. And A Clockwork Orange, a dystopian novel about human freedom (you’ll be hearing more about this one later hint hint nudge fucking nudge).
So I did my time, forcing myself to finally exercise after an inactive month and there were some good things that came out of it. The time passed by way quicker than usual and made it somewhat more enjoyable because I wasn’t just staring at a wall the whole time. Plus I had to concentrate harder on what I was reading and my posture was better.
The negatives? Breathing. I don’t know about you guys, but when I get immersed in a book I sometimes tend to forget about normal body functions like breathing properly (No? Just me? Kay). So when I was exercising, I would forget to focus on my breathing, which is kinda important, making me feel more winded and very light headed (may or may not have almost passed out the first day). Second, concentrating on my book. Yes I was immersed and was working harder to concentrate, but I was also moving a lot, making it hard to focus on a sentence. This was mainly an issue for A Clockwork Orange where you have to work twice as hard to understand what’s happening because of all the nadsat talk. I would often skip over or reread a sentence, and then have to shift my focus between reading and breathing (as I write this I realize this may just be a personal problem but whatever).
Consensus? I would keep doing it, but to an extent. The positives outweigh the negatives, and it allows me to be active while doing a leisure activity. But I wouldn’t read every time, and maybe only limit to days when I’m not planning on doing excessive workouts. Maybe I just need to get used to it? Possibly. But I’m definitely going to stick to books that don’t require a lot of effort to understand what’s happening (or have a made up language).
So while I am no Elle Woods, at the very least, I’ve potentially given myself an excuse for an extra hour of reading time.