Last night's viewing - Horizon: The Truth About Exercise, BBC2; Timothy Spall: All at Sea, BBC4

 

"I have two doctors," the historian G M Trevelyan once said, "My left leg and my right." They seem to have served him well because he lived to 86, not bad for someone who was born when Disraeli was prime minister. And if Horizon: The Truth About Exercise was to be believed, more of us should be signing up with the Trevelyan practice. Amid the blizzard of acronyms that featured in this account of recent research into exercise was NEAT, which is short for Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis, pretty much everything you do that isn't sleeping or sitting in a chair. Eulogised by an excitable scientist who looked to be making a pitch for a show of his own, NEAT can make a change to your overall fitness without you really noticing.

In the interests of science and his own health, Michael Mosley pulled on pair of hi-tech underpants (wired to record the minute-by-minute activity of their wearer) and found that he could burn an extra 500 calories a day just by fidgeting and taking the stairs. I'm guessing that he wasn't nearly as comfortable sitting down as he usually would be, with five or six accelerometers stuffed down his trousers, but the results were fairly striking even so. "You burnt an extra 500 calories and you didn't drop an extra drop of sweat," said the excitable man, before continuing to denounce the office chair as a perpetrator of silent genocide: "It's literally killing millions!" he said.

Mosley is a TOFI incidentally (Thin Outside, Fat Inside), which gave him a particular incentive to explore the best way to get fitter. In other words, he's got a lot of visceral fat, which doesn't show but does much more damage. Unfortunately, like many of us, his will is weak and his days are crowded. The good news here was HIT, or High Intensity Training, which promises the same benefits as two and half hours of exercise a week from just three very short sessions. The exercise you do has to be frenzied and extreme (and, in Mosley's case, accompanied by a lot of exhausted whooping) but, not counting the warm up, amounts to just three minutes of flat-out effort a week. The bad news, for Mosley in particular, is that if you're the wrong genetic type no amount of panting and screeching is going to make much of a difference.

After testing the regime for a month, he was pleasantly surprised to find a 23 per cent improvement in his insulin sensitivity (one measure of fitness), but dismayed to discover that in respect of aerobic fitness, he's one of the 20 percent of the population who count as Non-Responders. "How funny," he said as this sank in. "How tragic as well. How incredibly annoying." There have been occasions when that last phrase has been a perfect description of Horizon too, but not this time. This was solid popular science programming, both thought- and muscle-provoking.

The Princess Matilda is now on the homeward leg of her circumnavigation of Britain, a journey that Timothy Spall last night calculated has been conducted at the breakneck pace of a mile a day. Appropriately enough, they were moored up in the town of Amble at the beginning of last night's Timothy Spall: All at Sea and, as in all previous episodes, also paid a visit to Meander, Bickering and Mucking-About-on-Sea. They wandered around Newcastle with Tim doing his Geordie accent and then headed south to Hartlepool, a town they didn't seem very keen to linger in, but then were obliged to anyway, because the waves were a bit scary when they set off for Whitby. After mooring up again, they visited the local maritime museum, briskly: "Shane and I can do a museum in 25 minutes," said Timothy proudly, "We went to Versailles once. It took us 15 minutes." I think that counts as HIT, High Intensity Tourism.

Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey

film Sex scene trailer sees a shirtless Jamie Dornan turn up the heat

Arts and Entertainment
A sketch of Van Gogh has been discovered in the archives of Kunsthalle Bremen in Germany
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Eleanor Catton has hit back after being accused of 'treachery' for criticising the government.
books
Arts and Entertainment
Fake Banksy stencil given to artist Alex Jakob-Whitworth

art

Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift is heading to Norwich for Radio 1's Big Weekend

music
Arts and Entertainment
Beer as folk: Vincent Franklin and Cyril Nri (centre) in ‘Cucumber’
tvReview: This slice of gay life in Manchester has universal appeal
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
‘A Day at the Races’ still stands up well today
film
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tvAnd its producers have already announced a second season...
Arts and Entertainment
Kraftwerk performing at the Neue Nationalgalerie (New National Gallery) museum in Berlin earlier this month
musicWhy a bunch of academics consider German electropoppers Kraftwerk worthy of their own symposium
Arts and Entertainment
Icelandic singer Bjork has been forced to release her album early after an online leak

music
Arts and Entertainment
Colin Firth as Harry Hart in Kingsman: The Secret Service

film
Arts and Entertainment
Brian Blessed as King Lear in the Guildford Shakespeare Company's performance of the play

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
In the picture: Anthony LaPaglia and Martin Freeman in 'The Eichmann Show'

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Kirkbride and Bill Roache as Deirdre and Ken Barlow in Coronation Street

tvThe actress has died aged 60
Arts and Entertainment
Marianne Jean-Baptiste defends Joe Miller in Broadchurch series two

tv
Arts and Entertainment
The frill of it all: Hattie Morahan in 'The Changeling'

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny may reunite for The X Files

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
TV
News
A young woman punched a police officer after attending a gig by US rapper Snoop Dogg
people
Arts and Entertainment
Reese Witherspoon starring in 'Wild'

It's hard not to warm to Reese Witherspoon's heroismfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Word up: Robbie Coltrane as dictionary guru Doctor Johnson in the classic sitcom Blackadder the Third
books

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Hacked off: Maisie Williams in ‘Cyberbully’

Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challenge

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything and Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game are both nominated at the Bafta Film Awards
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

    As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

    Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
    Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

    The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

    Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
    Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
    Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

    Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

    A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
    How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

    How books can defeat Isis

    Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
    Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

    Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

    She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
    The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

    The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

    The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
    French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

    French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

    Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
    Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

    Young carers to make dance debut

    What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
    Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

    Design Council's 70th anniversary

    Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
    Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

    Dame Harriet Walter interview

    The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
    Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

    Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

    Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

    Bill Granger's winter salads

    Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
    England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

    George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

    No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
    Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links