The lazy guide to fitness

It might surprise you to find me blogging about exercise. But it is something I’ve been paying a bit more attention to recently, and I found this to be quite interesting – so I share it with you in case it’s interesting to you too.

I’m quite lazy, and so I look for shortcuts and efficiencies.

Don’t get me wrong – I like to do a lot, and I like to do that stuff as well as I possibly can – but I also like to do it with the least amount of effort and time spent. That way, I can do lots of other stuff too. Or just hang out. That’s fun too.

I’ve been trying to get a little healthier and fitter recently, but exercise requires time and effort – things I like to minimise. Also, gyms can be expensive, and I travel a lot – so really, what I need is a workout that takes very little time, uses no gym equipment at all, and does everything I need it to – i.e. keep me alive, well and feeling good – with energy to spare for other, more enjoyable stuff.

Lifehacker, the New York Times and the Health and Fitness Journal of the American College of Sports Medicine to the rescue.

K bigpic

This interval routine takes around 8 minutes, and “science” says it works. Essentially, you spend 30 seconds on each of the above exercises in this order, with 10 seconds rest in between each.

Now, I’m already doing the 10,000+ steps a day walking thing, as well as having at least one fresh fruit & vegetable juice per day whenever possible (and not the full-on, slightly scary ‘juice fast‘ that people seem so keen on) – but I thought I’d give this a try as well for 30 days just to see how I get on.

So far so good. It’s not easy – in fact, it’s pretty full-on – but it’s over quickly.

However – looking at the chart and setting timers is a pain. It’s distracting and hard to manage while you’re actually trying to do the exercises or move from one to the next. So I came up with a neat solution.

With Jake‘s help, I recorded myself introducing the exercises (“Next: push ups…”), indicating the halfway mark (“15 seconds…”) and counting down (“10… 5,4,3,2,1… and stop.”). That way, I can just listen to my iPod and do the exercises without having to continually look at the charts and a stopwatch.

Jake added a house track, which times in nicely so that (at 120bpm) the countdowns are in time with the beats. Works very well.

If you’d find it helpful, let me know if you’d like a copy of the mp3 and I’ll send it to you – with or without the music. Whatever works for you. Not everyone likes house music. I find it keeps me going and the repetitive beats take my mind off the unpleasantness of the task.

I can’t recommend the programme unreservedly, as I am no health scientist, and this is only day 2. But it’s worth a try. And it does seem to have been well researched by people who know far more about this stuff than I do.

Plus, I’ve had time to write a blog post about it rather than trudging back from the gym in the rain.

Resurrecting the 30-Day Calendar

Easter. Even without the religious associations, it feels like an occasion to withdraw from the world for a little while, contemplate for a few days, and then hopefully return renewed, ready to start some new things.

The whole chocolate, rabbits, eggs and ribbons thing doesn’t have much resonance for me, but that death and rebirth metaphor is an interesting one. Powerful. Useful. Timely…

So that’s what I’m doing. I’m heading up to the Lake District for a few days which, you must admit, is way better than dying. I’m going to read, walk, write and think. And when I come back, I’ll be – if not different, then at least doing some new stuff. And that’s always helpful, psychologically speaking.

Monday coincides with the start of April which, as you know, is a 30-day month. And all of this ‘starting fresh after withdrawing’ stuff feels like the perfect occasion to reintroduce the 30 Day Calendar into my life.

If the 30 Day Calendar is new to you, it’s something I came up with while I was actually doing a 30-day project. I do these from time to time: commit to doing something every day for 30 days as a way of forming habits, learning skills, improving some aspect of my life, or just as a kind of game.

The Saddest Cats, for instance, came out of one of those projects.

For one 30-day project, I decided to have a new idea every day and blog about it – and the calendar was idea number 5. So far, it’s been a pretty useful one and people seem to like it. I even got interviewed on the radio about it. The simple ideas are usually the best.

Essentially, it’s just a piece of paper with 30 boxes on it, and you put an X in the box each day when you’ve done something you committed to doing on that regular basis. That’s pretty much the whole thing – but of course, you can make it more complicated if you wish.

It could be writing, exercising, not drinking alcohol, making a mix tape for a different friend each day, starting the morning with one of Glenn Gould’s 30 Bach Goldberg Variations (I’ve done all of these) – or some other daily regular task of your choosing.

So – I’m going to print out a bunch of them, take them away with me, and figure out what it is I’m going to commit myself to doing every day for the entirety of April. The aim of the game is to get to the end of the month with no gaps.

If you want to play along, here’s a link to the PDF. Grab it, print some out, and on Monday, let’s start doing a bunch of small things every day that make life a little better, more interesting, or more weird.

Take it from me – it’s amazing what can happen when you do a little bit of something every day for a month. And I kinda like amazing, so I’m going to pick a few different things for April.

Have a great Easter break.

I’m bored with your ideas now

Photo by ĐāżŦ {mostly absent}

I started asking people for their ideas about stuff on this blog this time last week. I thought it might be an interesting follow-on from the project where I came up with an idea each day for thirty days.

It was inspired by the guys from Ideas Improv who stopped people in the street to ask for their ideas for a documentary project. Really interesting stuff.

I chose a range of topics and just threw the gates open. “Tell me your ideas”, I said. And some people did.

But I don’t think I thought this through well enough – and so now I’m going to stop. I feel as though rather than contribute to the value of this blog, just throwing out a topic and asking for your suggestions is getting in the way a bit.

So this is one 30-day project I’m happy to abandon.


Let’s hear your idea about… FOOD

Photo by stevendepolo

06. FOOD

Big topic today with lots of scope for inventiveness.

I want to hear your idea about food. Whether it’s about solving world hunger or preventing food wastage, creating home gardening kits, halting the obesity epidemic or creating ways in which kids can get more nutritious lunches at schools, I want to hear what you’ve come up with.

Maybe you’ve invented a new type of sandwich or designed a machine that poaches the perfect egg. Let’s hear your idea about food in the comments please.


Let’s hear your idea about… COLLECTING

Photo by Rupert Brun


Today’s call for ideas is about accumulating things.

Whether it’s an idea about how to shelve and display a DVD collection, thoughts about archiving or cataloguing, ways to start and keep a collection of interesting things, or perhaps you have new ideas about collectible products that will see you create the next Pokémon or Cabbage Patch doll phenomenon… we want to hear about.

Let’s have your idea related to collecting (or, indeed, ideas about anything that the subject of ‘collecting’ makes you think of) in the comments please.


Let’s hear your idea about… TIME

Photo by Telstar Logistics

04. TIME

Here’s an opportunity to get creative. You might have an idea for saving time, or for a time-management technique. You may want to think about keeping time, or doing something that involves altering the tempo in a piece of music. You might come up with a new type of watch, or some way of making things last much longer. You might have an idea about overcoming the problem of different timezones, or even decide to invent a method of time travel. It’s entirely up to you.

Put your ideas in the comments. Criticisms of the ideas will not be published – just the ideas. So feel free to be as imaginative as you like with it.

Look forward to seeing what you come up with.