A very interesting blog post from the NYTimes about recent studies on sedentary activity.  The upshot was that if you sit at your job, if you can get up every 20 minutes and just walk for 2 minutes, your insulin levels remain steady and other healthy measures.  Also, if you stand instead of sitting, even without walking or any other activity you burn many more calories.  In addition the research suggests that those who sit from 9-5, or the equivalent of 6 hours a day and exercise regularly are more likely to have heart disease than those who sit less than 3 hours per day and don’t “exercise” at all.  I excerpt a few bits here.  But worth reading its entirety.

(Update: the Author has a new book, too. Reviewed here.)

“If those numbers seem abstract, consider a blunt new Australian study. In it, researchers determined that watching an hour of television can snip 22 minutes from someone’s life. If an average man watched no TV in his adult life, the authors concluded, his life span might be 1.8 years longer, and a TV-less woman might live for a year and half longer than otherwise. …

Equally beguiling, at least for me, since I’m shallow, were results from experiments at the University of Massachusetts showing that when volunteers stood all day — nothing else; no walking or jogging; just standing — they burned hundreds more calories than when they sat for the same period of time.

So every 20 minutes or so, I now rise. I don’t have a desk treadmill; my office is too small, and my budget too slim. But I prop my papers on a music stand and read standing up. I prowl my office while I talk on the phone. (I also stand on one foot when I brush my teeth at night, which has little to do with reducing inactivity but may be one of the more transformative actions I’ve picked up from researching fitness.


Richard Feynman: The Pleasure of Finding Things Out 124 Comments

Topics: Interviews, Mental Performance

Many times in the last five years, I’ve been asked: “If you could have dinner with anyone in history, who would it be?”

My answer is always the same: Richard Feynman.

Right alongside Seneca’s Letters from a Stoic, Feynman’s book Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman! (Adventures of a Curious Character) hugely impacted every aspect of my thinking when I first read them circa 2005. Since then, I have studied Feynman’s letters, teaching style, discoveries, and beyond. How many Nobel Prize winners also safe crack and play bongos in bars for fun?

The above video will give you an taste of why I love Richard Feynman. It was forwarded to me by Brew Johnson and J.R. Johnson, whom I owe huge thanks, as I’d somehow missed it. About the program, Professor Sir Harry Kroto, recipient of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry, said:

“The 1981 Feynman Horizon is the best science program I have ever seen. This is not just my opinion – it is also the opinion of many of the best scientists that I know who have seen the program… It should be mandatory viewing for all students, whether they be science or arts students.”

Feynman’s makes me want to be a better teacher and, ultimately, a world-class parent (you’ll see what I mean). A few notes on the video:

– I first watched this in 10-minute bites before bed. There’s no need to watch it all at once.
– :30-:38 is fascinating physics, but physics nonetheless. He does a masterful job of getting lay people excited (his cadence helps a lot), but skip if needed, rather than missing what follows.
– :40+ explains part of his teaching philosophy, which greatly influenced how I outline my books.
– His concept of “active irresponsibility” is worth remembering.

May you all experience the pleasure of finding things out, starting here with a closer look at a most curious character: Richard Feynman.

If you could have dinner anyone from any time in history, who would you choose and why? Assume you can’t tell anyone about the dinner, so bragging rights don’t apply. What would you want to learn, know, or experience?


Odds and Ends:
Tim Ferriss on Reddit AMA (answering some controversial questions, too)
The 4-Hour Chef site – Brand-new and soon getting more. Some of the copy is placeholder text, but it give you an idea.

124 Comments / Leave a comment or question

March 12th, 2012

Reinventing the Office: How to Lose Fat and Increase Productivity at Work 202 Comments

Topics: The 4-Hour Body

(Photo: watz)

If you’re a white-collar worker, hacking your body isn’t limited to the gym. In fact, what you do outside of the gym might be more important that what you do inside the gym.

Recent research suggests that those who sit from 9-5 (more than 6 hours daily) and exercise regularly are more likely to have heart disease than those who sit less than 3 hours per day and don’t “exercise” at all