Sam of In-Aeternum is here today to share some all important reading tips that perhaps we don’t always think about: how to stay healthy while you read! Note, we are not healthcare professionals.
Ideally, it’s recommended to read at a desk, with both feet flat on the floor with the book elevated as to avoid bending your head down, but let’s be realistic! This isn’t always how we read. Generally we will curl up on the lounge with a book or lay in bed reading at the end of a long day and these positions are really not great for your overall health and wellbeing. Especially if reading in these positions is regular like it is for me! But we need to be realistic and there are a few things you can do to reduce the strain on your body while you are reading, whether it be laying on your bed or in more traditional, recommended positions at a desk:
- Light // It is important that you have adequate light. Your poor eyes are working all day long and reading places extra strain on them. So ensure that, wherever possible, you are utilizing natural light (e.g. from the sun) and in low light situations make sure that you have a lamp or light source close to you. Even when reading at night with the room lights on, it is recommended that you sit with a light source close to you.
- Eyes // While we are on the topic of eyes, it’s good practice to get your eye tested once a year. You may need reading glasses if you do large quantities of reading or if you are experiencing headaches, eye twitches or if you are feeling tired quickly. The test only takes about 20 minutes and glasses can be quiet inexpensive, so is worth doing to avoid long-term eye damage.
- Posture // As mentioned above, obviously sitting at a desk is the best practice for overall health but a few things to consider about your posture when reading can be applied to any position that you are in from laying down to curling up in an arm chair. Be conscious of your shoulders and ensure that they are relaxed. Especially if you are reading something stressful (like crime or horror) or if you do not understand something you are reading. Where possible, keep your back and neck straight and try not to twist you hips or legs to the side. Do not bend your neck down to look at your book. If needed, prop books up with pillows and cushions to ensure that your head is tilting as little as possible. Finally, if you do have pre-existing back or neck problems, talk to a chiropractor or physiotherapist about the best posture for your body when reading.
- Time // It is important to take regular breaks, especially for people that are reading as part of their job. Get up and walk around at least once an hour and stretching every half hour is recommended. Simple stretched such as tilting your head to one side and the other, rotating your head and neck slowly and soft arm stretches can make a big difference. Make sure you regularly focus your eyes on something in the distance to give your eyes a rest and sometimes closing them all together is the best way to give them a break. Just don’t fall asleep!