This is an important revelation for online learners – read carefully now – you don’t have to sit in front of your computer in order to get your work done! “What?” you think, “How is that possible??” Keep reading, it’s definitely possible. Don’t sacrifice your health and well being while you are learning online.
Below are some tips on how to stay physically active while learning online:
- For beginners: Use a text-to-speech program (program that reads on screen text aloud)
- For the serious and committed: Invest in a fitness desk (a desk that allows you to exercise -walk or bike – while you are working)
Beginning to Get Movin’
“But, I have so many articles to read,” you say, “I just can’t get up from my desk!” Yes, you can! If you have a smartphone or tablet, it’s quite easy. Even with a less portable technology like a laptop or a FULL desktop computer, you, too, can get moving!
First things first, you need to have the right equipment, namely:
- Technological device of your choosing – smartphone, tablet, computer
- Text-to-Speech program (reads on screen text aloud)
“Wait, a second,” you say, “Text to speech? I don’t want to listen to a voice that sounds like a robot!! That won’t work for me.” Text-to speech programs have come a LONG way in the last decade and especially in the last few years. You used to have to pay a premium for pleasant sounding voices. Today, quality voices (easy on the ears) are automatically included with low cost text-to-speech programs.
“Low cost?” you ask, “How much money are we talking here?”
My favorite text-to-speech program is only $10!! It has all the features I want. This program reads web articles if I provide the link. It reads the documents I upload to my Dropdrox. I can highlight and tag the text I want to archive. And what is the name of this fabulous program?
VoiceDream, iPhone, $10
There certainly are a variety of text-to-speech programs out there. I invite you to explore what’s available for your specific tech device and operating system.
When do I use VoiceDream, my preferred text-to-speech program? While I’m doing household chores that don’t require much concentration (laundry, dishes, you get the idea). While I’m walking the dog. In commute. There are so many uses for text-to-speech. It truly allows you to “learn on the go.”
If you do have a desktop computer, you can crank up the volume and do some stretches and calisthenics near your desk. While you are listening instead of reading, you are free to get up from your chair. A smartphone just gives you greater reach — grab your phone, a pair of headphones, and your dog. You are ready to hit the streets while getting a little studying done as well 🙂
Breaking a Sweat (for the Committed and Ambitious)
“Well, that’s great,” you think, “but I feel like I need my keyboard in order to be productive.” Again, you do have options with a bit of creative forethought and planning.
A colleague told me about this idea and I love it — the Treadmill Desk. Work at your computer while walking on your treadmill. If you already have a treadmill, you can rig up a board across it and, voila, you have a place to set your computer.
The basics on how to get started:
- Figure out how to turn your treadmill (or other piece of fitness equipment) into a desk. You can also buy a treadmill desk from a retailer. Here are a couple of good resources:
How to Quickly and Easily Build a Treadmill Desk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vx0b75E5j50
The Best Treadmills Desks (Consumer Reports): http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2013/11/best-treadmill-desks/index.htm
- Place computer on top of fitness desk.
- Start walking at a very low setting. (probably the very lowest setting – be safe!)
- Get comfortable. At first, just try walking and reading. Then see if you can manage some clicks.
- Try Some Typing. Once you’re comfortable, you can try typing while you’re exercising. It sounds like it might be difficult, but with training, you’ll find it’s pretty easy.
CAVEAT: Just remember to stop when you begin feeling fatigued. That’s when an accident is most likely to happen.
Keep these tips in mind and online learning will not deteriorate your fitness level. In fact, you will probably find those dog walks a lot more interesting. And if you invest in a fitness desk, you’ll likely find yourself feeling invigorated and even more ready to tackle your online coursework.