Although the publishing world does have a place for fitness gurus such as Joe ‘Lean in 15’ Wicks, literary figures are traditionally admired for their minds than their actual figures. Readers and writers are more often found boiling the kettle for tea and biscuits, rather than working out with kettle bells.
With summer holidays looming, how can you transform from a bookworm to a beach hunk or babe?
Take A Leaf Out of Charles Dickens’ Book
Don’t worry, you won’t have to survive on a diet of Oliver Twist’s workhouse gruel to lose weight. Charles Dickens is revered as perhaps the greatest novelist of the Victorian era, but he is less well known for smashing 10,000 steps a day. Mr Dickens is said to have walked up to 20 miles, or around 40,000 steps per day. Impressive.
The act of walking itself is a great way to clear your mind. New ideas and solutions to writing problems can often pop into your head while you’re strolling along. And if the muse strikes, then many phones can translate your speaking voice to text while you walk or jog – as long as you’ve got enough breath to speak. This can transform your mobile musings into usable words on an email or note that you can transfer to your manuscript.
If you prefer to stay at home, or the summer showers have turned into a summer deluge, then why not get a treadmill desk exercising both mind and body at the same time?
A love of books doesn’t have to mean being inactive – especially if you have a very large collection of printed books. Unfortunately eBooks just don’t help you keep fit in the same way. You can burn a lot of calories taking the books down from the shelf to dust, catalogue, and sort out- especially if your shelves are high and you need a chair or a ladder to reach the top. Stretch for books on the left, and then to the right. Reach to the top, then to the bottom shelf to get more flexible. Avoid falling off the ladder or chair if possible.
Once you’ve sorted out those books that you no longer need, replace the ones that you’re keeping back on the shelf. Arrange them randomly so that you’ll use more energy searching for them in the future. Then:
1. Divide the ‘unwanted’ books into two piles of roughly the same weight.
2. Put them in two bags.
3. Take a bag of books in each hand.
4. Walk along at a swift pace, raising and lowering the bags, using books as weights for bicep curls.
5. Hold the book bags at your sides, and add a few weighted walking lunges to your stroll to town.
6. Donate the books to the charity shop of your choice – preferably the one furthest along the high street.
7. Buy more books from the charity shop, or do your food shopping (focusing on heavier healthy items such as fruit and veg rather than packets of crisps)
8. Walk back home, repeating the exercises.
If you don’t have a large collection of books, you can also get fit by walking to and from the library. Focus on thick, hardback biographies, or large-print books which are usually bigger than normal. Talking of large print, having poor eyesight and a bad memory can also help you get fit – as the search for your reading glasses can go on for hours. Try and ensure you leave them in the most unlikely place possible.
On the Beach
Even when you are actually on the beach,books can help you exercise. For example if you’re lying flat on a beach towel, you’ll find that holding your book up in front of your face will a) shield your face from the sun’s harmful rays and b) make your arms ache, helping with bingo wings.
If the sun is particularly hot, the glue holding the pages of your paperback may melt, and your pages could blow away in the breeze. Cue a frantic dash over the sand, as the text flutters hither and thither. You may ‘smash’ your personal best at a 200m sprint, as you desperately try to retrieve page 389 from floating off into the sea – and with it your last chance of finding out who the serial killer was.
Try not to drift off to sleep however, whilst reading a book and floating on a lilo. Paddling back the 2 miles back to shore using your book as an oar will render the book too soggy to read, even if it’s a good upper body workout.
Best of British
If none of these exercise tips appeal, then consider going to Wales for your summer holidays. Unless there’s a freak heatwave, your normal all-year-round body will do very nicely, thank-you. You can be as white and wobbly as a blancmange under the jumper, jeans and cagoule that you’ll probably be wearing, sheltering behind a wind-break, under a travel blanket, happily reading your book or scribbling in your notepad.
We hope you have a lovely summer, wherever you are.