Listen your way to fitness.
Imagine a sunny spring day beckoning you outdoors for a brisk walk. Feeling invigorated, you stride forth with an audio book as your only companion.
For the reluctantly energetic, audio books can provide an incentive for starting an exercise regimen in the first place. Also, a captivating story may lead to longer workouts.
People driven to accomplish two things at once can learn U.S. history via The Americans by Daniel Boorstein while jogging along a river's edge. Those short on time can immerse themselves in a recent bestseller, such as Jacquelyn Mitchard's The Deep End of the Ocean, while biking.
Those who are less rushed can savor the casual pace of audio books. Whereas one typically might read 400 words per minute or more, the spoken rate is about 100 words per minute. Instead of covering 40 to 60 pages per hour, the audio book covers about 15. This leisurely pace evokes the artist in the listener. As with radio dramas of the past, listeners mentally provide their own unique visual interpretations.
Audio books in full-length and abridged formats can be found at libraries for free. Abridged editions can often be rented for a couple of dollars at video stores, and purchased at most bookstores. Audio books of all types can be acquired via the Internet.
You can rent or purchase from a selection of more than 5,000 full-length books from Recorded Books and Books on Tape. Both companies feature a variety of genres ranging from classics and children's literature to contemporary fiction and nonfiction, including biography, history, humor, management and self-help. While Recorded Books and Books on Tape may offer some of the same titles, they are read by different people.
Most books rent for $10 to $15, and sell for about $60. Longer books, requiring 20 to 30 cassettes, are rented or sold in two or more parts and cost more. Many companies send customers announcements regarding sale prices and new acquisitions. Audio books can be rented for one month and returned prepaid through an easy return mailing package.
Brilliance Corporation sells a collection of full-length audio books through retail bookstores. If you have access to the Internet, check out Terry's World of Audio Books at www.cuc.edul~wgts/Audiolaudbook.html. This Web site includes a list of phone numbers for several companies which rent and sell audio books. It also links to other audio book sites that include listings for publishers and clubs.
Audio tapes like Kathy Smith's Lean Walk System (Time Warner, $20) are also available. However, programs like this offer music and encouragement to guide and motivate you every step of the way.
The time has come to give audio books due notice as an accompaniment to fitness. Audio books recapture the campfire storytelling tradition, reminiscent of the age before television when parents read aloud to children. Whether full-length or abridged, books recorded on cassette or compact disc can be utilized as a way to enrich exercise. However, because audio books require concentration and may block out other sounds, one must remain aware of potential dangers, such as approaching traffic in biking or jogging situations.
So hit the trail as you listen to Steve Ambrose's Undaunted Courage, the story of explorers Lewis, Clark and Sacagawea. Walk the treadmill gripped in suspense by Patricia D. Cornwell's Cruel and Unusual. Run The Road Ahead with Bill Gates as he expounds the information highway. With books on tape, you have the opportunity and the means to rejuvenate the body, mind and spirit simultaneously.
For more information on audio books and tapes to accompany your workout, or to order, contact Recorded Books at (800) 638-1304, Books on Tape at (800) 626-3333, Brilliance Corporation at (800) 222-3225 or Kathy Smith Lifestyles at (800) 874-5339.
Tom Batell is a freelance writer residing in Minnesota City, Minnesota.