Exercises And Stretches To Do While Reading
January 20, 2008 10:22 AM   Subscribe

Exercises And Stretches To Do While Reading?

I am a PhD student and spend much of my day reading. While I get daily exercise, the years spent reading daily for hours on a comfy couch have left many muscles with a lack of flexibility, strength, or both.

I am looking for exercises and stretches I can do while reading. Can the hivemind help?

The exercises and stretches preferable would:
1) ...be activities that can be done from a sitting or laying position.
2) ...be mild enough to not take my mind off the reading. For example, doing a 250lb bench press with the book taped to the bar is not going to work.
3) ...not require frequently changing of position. Changing positions every 15 minutes is preferable to changing positions every 30 seconds.
4) ...not require some expensive exercise machine.

Any suggestions?
posted by chrisalbon to Health & Fitness (14 answers total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: 5) ...should be able to be done in my apartment, not just in the gym.
posted by chrisalbon at 10:24 AM on January 20, 2008

If you could elaborate a bit more on what type of exercise you are looking for it would help. I don't believe you could do any strength training but some mild cardio would be doable. A recumbent bike might do the trick.
posted by Octoparrot at 10:38 AM on January 20, 2008

Best answer: For example:

Lay flat on the floor facing the ceiling with the book in your hands. Then lift and hold your legs slightly off the ground for a few minutes. Here is a visual.
posted by chrisalbon at 10:47 AM on January 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

As Octo said, this needs to be elaborated a bit. What are your goals? What are you starting with?

But I will say you can do an effective amount of cardio training in 20 minutes and stretch out your entire body in another 5. 25 minutes isn't a whole lot of time away from reading.
posted by munchingzombie at 10:47 AM on January 20, 2008

Response by poster: My goals would be to increase my flexibility and maybe some very very light cardio.
posted by chrisalbon at 10:49 AM on January 20, 2008

Best answer: Replacing your desk chair with a similarly-sized exercise ball will subtly work your core muscles.
posted by freshwater_pr0n at 11:16 AM on January 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

They do say that if you do use an exercise ball as a chair to use it for short periods, not all day. You can develop back issues if use it as a chair all the time due to lack of support and increased possibility of injury.
posted by fructose at 11:21 AM on January 20, 2008

Best answer: I like to do a little ab toning while I read:


Hold this pose for about a page, take a break for a couple pages, then lift yourself again for a page. Repeat the cycle for as long as you feel comfortable (and it's harder than you'd think). You'll see definite results.
posted by Help, I can't stop talking! at 12:04 PM on January 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Sit on floor with your legs spread and extended. Put the book between your legs. Reach for one foot for a minute, reach for the other foot for a minute.

Lay on your stomach. Stretch your back by pushing your torso up with your arms and holding the position for a minute or two (here). The book can be placed on the ground.

Do a Google image search for yoga poses (does this work?). You'll find some that could easily be done while reading. This one, for example, looks like a very good back and leg stretch that you can do, though you might need a book stand (and elastic muscles!).
posted by HotPatatta at 12:13 PM on January 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Kegels (men can do them too).
Practice the Pilates core stabilizing "zip-up and hollow" move.
Leg lifts; lay on your side with the book in front of you, focus on form and do them slowly.
Sitting on a big exercise ball instead of an office chair while at the computer.
Ballet-style pointing and flexing your feet.
Squishing a squishy stress ball with your hand.
Chinese exercise balls.
Lay on the floor, stomach down, book in front of you, and raise your legs and chest off the floor at the same time, hold it, repeat.
posted by Melinika at 12:21 PM on January 20, 2008 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: These are some great suggestions. I especially appreciate the photos! Keep them coming!
posted by chrisalbon at 12:21 PM on January 20, 2008

Best answer: Despite that your stated preference is for sitting or laying-down exercises, may I suggest a hula hoop? My sister got rid of significant post-partum chub using the 'hoop. It takes a week or so to get to where you can do it unconsciously, but she developed a six-pack over the course of a particularly reading-intense semester.
posted by notsnot at 1:49 PM on January 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: This morning I was reading at the kitchen table and my husband was vacuuming all around me. When he started to bang into my feet I distractedly lifted them so he could clean underneath. As I continued reading, my thighs and stomach started to quiver a little. After about 3 minutes, I thought...what the hell, my thighs are on fire...is he ever going to finish vacuuming under my chair??? I turned around to say something and he had a big smile on his face, and asked me how I liked the mini-workout.

So something so simple can be effective too - just keep increasing how long you lift your legs. No equipment required ;)
posted by iconomy at 2:06 PM on January 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: A lot of exercise/resistance elastics/bands can be adapted for one armed sitting positions.

When I'm reading articles at home, sometimes I'll play around with a 10 or 20lb barbell in one hand, then switch off (flipping pages, taking notes with other hand). Bicep curls (waist level), tricep curls (elbow next to ear, barbell behind the head), or just raising it straight up (good for delts).
posted by porpoise at 5:51 PM on January 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

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