≡ Menu

Reading & Exercise. They’re Not That Different. Guest post by Tara

runnerFirst, let me say that I’m relatively new to reading the World’s Strongest Librarian.  But, I’m pretty drawn to it, and the whole concept has had my mind spinning lately.  Books?  Muscles?  You know, they just usually don’t go hand-in-hand.  Those book worms usually aren’t the fittest, most toned, what have you – golden-bronzed-bikini-clad-blondies walking the beach.  Usually.  But, who said they can’t be?  I was an English Major, I’ve done my share of reading.

I remember being young and my mother actually having to instill a time limit upon the amount of hours in a day in which I could do nothing but read.  I have also been the gym fanatic, a running nut, and have paid my dues in front of Jillian Michael, shredding it up.

Similarities between reading and exercise

Actually none of that is really the point of where I’m going though.  Fooled you didn’t I?  I’d like to propose something.  I’d like to put forth the idea that reading and exercise are really not all that different, that readers and workout fanatics are more similar than we think, and that in many instances, we turn to one or the other for exactly the same reasons.

The first, and probably the biggest similarity I’ve discovered (or made up, take your pick) lies in their ability to allow us to escape.  Both reading and exercise occupy your mind, wholly, fully and give you a reprieve, whether momentary or longer, from whatever it is going on in life at that present time.

Sure, reading might involve curling up on a couch with a soothing cup of cocoa, and gym time may involve nasty things like sweat and a crazy accelerated heart rate.  But, bottom line: if the book is good enough and if you’re exercising hard enough, your mind is occupied.  That means a dictionary isn’t gonna cut it, nor is an aimless walk through the park.

I’ve logged countless miles for that purpose, and I’ve bought just many lousy “airport” reads for the same reason.  One option may have been better for my physique, but they both did the job.

Will power

They can also both stretch our will power and determination.  Think about it: not all books are “easy” but we read them anyway.  And certainly no good workout is easy, but we do it anyway.  Why? Because we want something out of it, and we’re willing to put our chin to the ground and get through it. We will come back day after day, if need be, and plunge through.

Endurance training

The longer you go, the easier it gets.  If you’re ever read some literary criticism or been forced to endure the trainer from hell, you know what I mean.  In the beginning, you feel like crawling up and dying, (or burning the book/firing the trainer), but whatever the case may be, you don’t.  You have a goal, and you push until it’s accomplished.

They both give us a chance to show off.  Yeah, I know, I’m in California now and my years and years of reading do nothing for me on a beach.  BUT.  Readers can usually rock a game of Trivial Pursuit.  As can they hold their own in a decent conversation, which, I’d like to say, most of those bronzed, bikini-clad-blondes, cannot.

The ability to make useful connections

They can also figure stuff out.  Their mind works in deeper ways, more methodical ways, and you never know, sometimes that stuff from Robinson Crusoe just comes in handy!  Readers also usually like to share what they’ve discovered.

Especially readers who like historical/scientific/factual, maybe even political.  I have to say I’m more the of the fiction kinda girl myself, which isn’t quite as helpful in the show-off category. The physical stuff, we get that pretty easy.  If you’re going to work that hard at something, usually you want to show off the fruits of your labor.  But, I’d like to think both can be as equally confident boosting as each other, just in different ways.

They’re healthy.  Healthy for your mind and healthy for your body.  Reading stretches your brain, takes it to new places and makes it grow.  It’s just the nature of reading.  And, well, we all know exercise is beyond healthy.

I’ve never felt better or been happier than when I was exercising intensely and regularly.  So yeah.  They’re both good for you.  And, I’d just like to say, a lot of the tips and tricks I’ve learned about becoming more physically healthy, have come from book knowledge.  Just sayin’.

I can imagine now the workout buffs repulsed by the idea that they have anything in common with the literary snobs spouting Cixous and vice versa.

But hey, this blog exists and a whole ton of people are reading it, so maybe we’re all more connected than I’ve seen.  I don’t know, sometimes I think it’s bizarre that I was a literary English major and devoted four solid years to reading.

Sometimes I find it even more bizarre that I used to run 6+ miles every day, six days a week.  But, then I realize neither of those are all that separate.  I got something needed out of both of them.  And hey, it’s always good to chill out after a nice long run with an airport read.  You should maybe try it sometime.

About the author:

Tara is a freelance writer, native to Montana, now living in Southern Cali and soaking in the warm weather.  When not grabbing sun or writing something sassy, she also writes alongside Coffee Home Direct.  Wanna read more of her stuff?  Follow her on Twitter @hopesiempre.


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Voice of Reason April 8, 2011, 10:44 am

    Absolute…twaddle, and to think I wasted time reading it.

    • Peter April 20, 2011, 7:40 am

      You should at least offer up reasons, since you identify yourself as a voice of reason.

  • Nolan Wilson April 8, 2011, 11:31 am

    Great post Tara. I myself love the best of both these worlds, but I never really put the two together.

    • Josh Hanagarne April 8, 2011, 11:43 am

      Join us, Nolan. The elite straddle the two universes:)

  • DC5 April 8, 2011, 11:33 am

    Why not exercise and read at the same time?

    I remember running on the treadmill and reading a book or magazine at the same time. I never fell off, though once in a while I did lose my place.

    • Josh Hanagarne April 8, 2011, 11:43 am

      I was trying to read a book called “Encoding Love” on a treadmill about a month ago. I find that I do much better with fiction than non-fiction if I’m moving while reading.

  • Tara April 11, 2011, 8:46 am

    Thanks for the feedback all! I REALLY wish I could read and workout at the same time! I have tried the treadmill approach but I get carsick. If anyone has any tips on beating that, let me know!