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Get up and move: An exercise plan inspired by Jane Austen

We at the Jane Austen Summer Program hope you had a festive holiday season. As we begin the new year, many of us are aiming to get more active.

Jane Austen's characters were often on the move, walking most of the time. In his book "The Jane Austen Diet," Bryan Kozlowski extrapolates that the Bennet sisters walk six to eight miles a week going from Longbourn to Meryton and back. Indeed, Lizzy is happy to walk the three miles to Netherfield when Jane takes ill.

Austen herself once wrote in an 1805 letter: "Yesterday was a busy day with me, or at least with my feet and my stockings; I was walking almost all day long; I went to Sidney Gardens soon after one, and did not return till four, and after dinner I walked to Weston," which, according to "The Jane Austen Diet," was about a mile and a half away.

Whether you are as rigorous with your exercise as Mrs. Norris and need a low-impact activity for your off days, or if you’ve been bingeing sweets while bingeing "Bridgerton" and need inspiration to get moving again, we devised a few simple Jane Austen-themed exercises to bring some variety to your routine.

1. Two-handed book lifting

What better way to incorporate your favorite pastime?

Quite simply, stand and lift your book up to your face to read and then down again.

Start with 20 repetitions using both hands to lift your book.

*To add an extra challenge, try squatting as you lift your book.

2. One-handed book lifting

After using both hands, you are ready to lift your book using just one hand. We suggested 10 times on each hand, but you can do as many as you like.

*To add a challenge here, add a lunge for each lift.

3. Teapot

Place one hand on one hip and hold the other up like a spout.

Then, bend the top part of your body at the hips swaying side to side like a teapot.

Be sure to tip your teapot both ways!

*To add a challenge, try balancing on one foot as you sway.

4. Surprise greeting

Start this motion from a sitting position at a chair.

Stand up and then either curtsey or bow.

*To make this challenging, instead of sitting in a chair, begin from a squatting position.

5. Turn about the room

This one is the simplest of all!

Stand and take a walk.

If you can, go for a walk in the great outdoors. After all, what are men to rocks and mountains?

We hope your new year is full of good health, and we look forward to seeing you all (virtually) in June!


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