Just a couple of things you might like to know about. The first is a BBC Horizon documentary entitled The Truth About Exercise. You can find the documentary here.
Mister Litlove heard about this and watched it because, as you may be aware, he is quite keen on his exercise and I am frequently a rowing widow. Exploring the results of the most recent research, the programme suggests that there is a large chunk of the population (about 35%) who get little to no quantifiable health benefit out of long-term exercise. There’s a sliding scale, as you may imagine, with a small percentage of what they call ‘super receptors’ at the top of it, people for whom exercise training pays back big dividends. Quite a lot of us can go down the gym all we like; it’s not going to make a significant difference.
Now of course that doesn’t mean we can all take to our sofas with a sigh of relief. We still have to watch out for our risk of diabetes and our overall cardiovascular fitness. To get health benefits from exercise, these scientists are suggesting that three 20-second sessions a week of intense physical exertion (they get the documentary narrator to pedal an exercise bike as ferociously as possible) are sufficient for a significant impact on health. Or we can look at it another way. Another expert they talk to argues that it’s the sedentary lifestyle that does us the most damage. Our bodies aren’t designed to do nothing (and another part of the programme looks at the way we can all do more physically than our minds believe). What makes a big difference is simply moving around, being ordinarily active. Again, that makes a significant impact on overall health.
I must say I felt quite encouraged when I heard about this. I definitely feel much better if I can get out once a day just to wander round the shops or walk around the town. And I do stretching exercises every evening just to keep limber. But I have no inclination towards exercise and simply can’t make myself do it. My other favourite exercise-related information came from the survey suggesting that if we imagine doing exercise very vividly, we can become up to 8% fitter. So I prescribe one thriller a week, to ensure we get the vicarious benefits of reading about those bionic protagonists who rush around securing the safety of their community in the face of lethal menace.
Which leads me into the other thing I had to tell you about, and that was a message that came from the Bloomsbury Beauties about a monthly crime fiction competition they are holding. It is apparently the Year of the Short Story (I’ll bet you knew that, although I didn’t), and the Bloomsbury peeps are challenging writers to write a crime short story in less than 1,000 words. Each month one of their crime authors will write a short story, which will feature on the home page of the site, setting a theme for that month’s entries. Have a look at the website which has all the details of entry and prizes, yay!
This month the theme is deception, which naturally made me wonder about a short story in which someone watches the Horizon television programme and then murders their personal trainer in revenge for all the unnecessary torture they have suffered. Ha! But don’t look to me to write it, not my sort of thing at all so I offer you that idea entirely gratis.
If exercising the brain is something you would so much rather do only for three brief intervals a week, then I also suggest you have a look at the Bloomsbury short story podcasts, which look wonderful to me. Maybe I’ll do 20 seconds on the exercise bike and then reward myself with one.