I blog as an author, with occasional reference to my other professional world, where I'm an IT training consultant, these days specialising in intensive graduate programmes in the corporate world. One of the many joys of the latter is this: I get to enthuse and inform about deeply technical stuff (therefore combining show biz, applied psychology and computer science/software engineering) while staying on my feet all day long.
I leap around a lot. And drink coffee a lot. These facts may be related.
Then there are the months-long blocks of time when I'm working from home on a book (or doing computer research). Despite my modest back-garden dojo/gym and a lifelong exercise habit, I've not found that home-based lifestyle conducive to optimum health. Not at all.
If you can find it on YouTube or iPlayer, it's worth checking out Dr Michael Mosley's excellent science documentary called The Truth About Exercise (a Horizon episode) which tells you everything you need to know about exercise, especially if you're not an inveterate gym user. Since Dr Mosley made the documentary a few years ago, its message has become far more widely spread, so most of this won't be new to you.
There are two main recommendations.
First, sit as little as possible. Keep on your feet and keep moving. Like many people, I've been shifting more and more towards working in a standing position even when I'm at home. Right now, I'm using my laptop in the living-room, due to needing to keep an eye on the cat. (He's been wearing a buster collar (lampshade collar) to stop him licking inflamed areas, but I've given him a break from that, so I have to watch him.) Upstairs in my study/office, I've been raising the height of my laptops from time to time by propping them on boxes. Seriously, why fork out money for special furniture?
So a few minutes ago, thinking about how I could work standing while in the living-room, it occurred to me that there was already something in the house that allows for exactly the working position I desired.
The apparatus is known as an "ironing board".
I'm using it right now, and it seems perfect. (A proviso: whenever I mention some exercise or piece of training kit that I've found useful, I will have used it for at least two years. This has been a matter of minutes.)
Perhaps I should buy a few thousand of the things, paint them with go-faster stripes, add a motivating motto - WORK LIKE A WARRIOR - and sell them as the Next Best Thing for fitness. (BLOWTORCH THE FAT FROM YOUR BODY. AWAKEN YOUR PRIMAL SPIRIT.)
Or maybe I won't.
Dr Mosley's documentary showed the marvellous health benefits of being on your feet and walking, but he didn't stop there. He also explored the benefits of performing High-Intensity Interval Training on an exercise bike for only 3 minutes per week. (My fellow athletes will be familiar with the 4-minute Tabata protocol.) Combine the two approaches to exercise, and you have a winner. He also makes clear that my habit of sitting for long periods and then performing a hard daily workout is not enough for good health.
So, I was doing it wrong.
A detail about High-Intensity Interval Training: Dr Mosley, who is always willing to make himself the guinea pig for his documentaries, made vast improvements in his insulin/blood sugar response after only four weeks of HIIT (for a total of twelve minutes exercise), but zero improvement in his VO2 Max, the key measurement of aerobic fitness. This was as predicted by researchers who had performed the appropriate genetic analysis beforehand. Other exercisers would have shown a huge improvement, as much as if they'd performed long, traditional endurance sessions. That's in the genes.
But of course, the state of your DNA is not static. The sequence of base pairs is fixed, but control genes possess dynamic state. The reason that keeping on your feet is good for you is that a control gene is switched on simply by walking.
The state of my books isn't static either, but things move slowly in the summertime. Two completed books are out in the publishing marketplace, and I've a first draft awaiting work at some point in the future.
Okay, I'll come clean - the first draft is called TRISTOPOLIS REQUIEM.
You heard that here first, too.
There are no ironing boards in the book.