New Year’s resolutions typically fall into one of two categories:
1. A single, targeted goal that if broken down probably fills a page of mini goals.
2. A list of resolutions because ALL of them are important and you simply cannot choose a single one.
I fall into the second category because, let’s be honest, who only has one thing they’d like to improve in their life? Certainly not me. I’m a multi-tasker by nature and truthfully, I’m not sure I could commit an entire year to a single resolution. On the flip side, I read that only 8% of resolution-makers can claim success. Maybe there’s something there.
It’s pretty common knowledge that most Jan. 1 goals are fitness-related by nature: exercise more, lose weight, walk daily. This year in particular, I’ve heard a handful of people say they want to read more. Physical health and intellectual wellness – I’m in!
I mentioned I like to multi-task and my workouts are no exception. Full transparency, cardio isn’t my friend unless I am jamming to some motivating music, reading, watching or scrolling some form of entertainment. Yes, I am the crazy person dancing on the elliptical machine.
Regardless, when I processed the thought of exercise and reading as New Year’s resolutions –
it was genius. What a way to tackle TWO goals considered as ONE since a lot of people sandwich them together anyway. I had to push the envelope and dig deeper.
I found health-specific benefits of reading like decreased stress, improved sleep and even slowed cognitive decline. Best part? The University of Sussex claims that it only takes SIX MINUTES a day to reap most of these benefits. Bump that number to 30 minutes and studies have shown you could add TWO YEARS to your life.
Now the fun part — how do I couple reading and a workout? Normally, I’d take a seat on the recumbent (leaned back) or cycling bike. Here’s the thing, distractions tend to decrease the quality and intensity of exercise which will limit the physical perks we’re seeking.
I find that cardio machines requiring me to keep up are the way to go (stair steppers and climbers, treadmills, upright and recumbent ellipticals). Safety is the obvious priority, but you can find a rhythm. It becomes cathartic, almost a form of meditation — blink and you’re done. Six super fast minutes or a brief 30-minute cardio session are something almost anyone can fit into their week.
What about strength training? Check these options out:
- Planks! Planks! and more Planks! Hold a plank (traditional, forearm, modified on knees) while you read a page, release to scroll or turn the page. Advanced: eliminate the breaks and swap styles or complete a push-up for page turns. Yogi Option: use breaks to move that spine with some cat/cows.
- Squat Success! Hold your book or tablet and choose the squat of your choice (traditional, sumo, side). This works for lunges, too. Advanced: Wall-sit and read inbetween sets Yogi Option: hold a lunge (modified by dropping a knee) or deep squat (Garland pose) for added benefits.
- Ab Challenge! Reverse crunches, low-body bicycles and leg raises (single or double) allow you to lay down, holding your book or tablet with both hands (make sure you press elbows into the floor for stability). Advanced: Glute bridge hold (feet to the ground, press those hips to the ceiling and SQUEEZE) to read between sets. Yogi Option: Windshield wipers (alternate dropping knees to either side) and reclined butterfly (feet together, knees fall open) for that savasana feel.
Attainable workout lengths, tons of benefits, cardio and full-body strength options — these are two resolutions that are very clearly meant to be. Let’s be a part of the 8% success and rock these resolutions together!
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