Today I’m going to talk about a subject which might not be uppermost in the mind of us bibliophiles. Fitness – hope I haven’t shocked you. In the advert break half-way through “Coronation Street” last night I found myself pressing the Rewind button. This was the launch of “One You” the new public health fitness campaign. I’d heard about this. Aimed at people like me – the forty and fifty’s generation who are going to cost the NHS billions in the future with our sedentary lifestyles and filthy habits. It has been devised by Public Health England (I think Scotland and Wales are running their own campaigns) to cut down on the shocking statistic that 40% of all deaths in England can be attributed to lifestyle choices. I felt really quite positive viewing the advert- this really was being targeted at me and so naturally I felt I should do something about it.
By the time I was half-way through watching “Mary Berry’s Foolproof Recipes” (mmm-cake!) I’d completed the lifestyle quiz and scored what I felt was an encouraging 7 out of 10. The Smoking and Drinking section I passed with flying colours leading only the Eating and Moving section giving slight cause for concern. I know about Eating – I have made changes to my diet but I did feel slightly misled by the questioning technique. Asked what I would choose for a snack between chocolate or a piece of wholemeal toast with low-fat spread I went for the chocolate option. (Is Mars sponsoring this? Could there be a free bar at the end of it?). It was the choice bit that threw me. I’d choose to have chocolate but I’d probably end up having the toast with the low fat spread – or actually, more often than not, neither. So I took note of the food advice but wasn’t going to worry unduly. So that left just the one section – Moving.
I quite like the term “moving”, I don’t like the term “exercise” so well done to whoever came up with that. I don’t move enough I know and there was a bit of wishful thinking going on as I slid my sliding scales over each day of the week to show how much heart-pumping movement I was doing. This would be the area where I would need to improve. I’m not joining a gym again – been there, done that, have made a number of gym owners quite wealthy during the years and just saddled myself with a lot of guilt about paying a membership and not going regularly. I’ve had numerous pieces of gym equipment over the years which end up as clothes hangers and I’m not succumbing to one of those “Fitbits” or whatever they’re called to wear round my wrist because it would be like being tagged by my old PE teacher (who was the main reason why I’ve struggled with exercise in the first place).
But One You sounded good. There were Apps to download – one for Easy recipes (okay I don’t need another set of recipes but I’ll go along with this one) and one called optimistically from Couch To 5K which would offer me total fitness in 9 weeks. This seemed like the answer to everything. Should I cancel my NHS pre-paid Prescription straightaway? App downloaded.
I had a look before I went to sleep- all looked good. It starts off easy and there’s a choice of personal trainer (I went with Jo Whiley) to help you through. I approved of the technique – bouts of walking with short intense bursts of exercise. I’ve seen Dr Michael Mosley on this subject and know it is the way to get the fat burning and real fitness. It fails for me on practical issues – how will I know if when I’ve run for 60 seconds ? What happens if I accidentally do 50? Will it not work? Or how about 70? Will my heart give out? I’m not grappling with a stop-watch and I don’t want to scare local dogwalkers with a stop/start technique if I’m not totally convinced I will know what to do.
But wait! Jo Whiley will guide me through it. All I need to do is to take my tablet out with me (I don’t use a mobile phone) and she’ll tell me when to stop running, when to start walking and when (importantly) to rest. All I would need to do the instructions tell me is to download the training session using my wi-fi before I go out. It reassured me about other concerns which might put me off – what to wear, how to fit it into my day so I was actually thinking as I was lying in bed this morning of getting out and doing it right away before I started my day. All I had to do was download the training session………………………..And here’s the problem. There was no way to download the training session – no help page, no download section, no FAQ’s, no nothing. Do they not know that as well as being couch potatoes us 40-50 year olds can often be thwarted by technology? It looked like Jo Whiley was not going to be coming out with me after all.
And then………My tablet went into complete melt-down and slumped into a kind of limbo existence where you never know if it would ever come back to life. It had to go through each app re-installing things which took a great chunk of the morning and great anxiety as my partner’s tablet gave up the ghost completely during a system update – but this didn’t seem to be a system update as I would have been told about it beforehand. Once things seemed to be back to normal I had to take some radical action, but, unfortunately it was not running with Jo Whiley. Based on the computer teccy theory that whatever caused the sudden problem on your machine is probably caused by the last thing you downloaded I swiped over to the Google App store and uninstalled Couch To 5K and Easy Recipes. And that was the end of my new fitness regime……………………. Now where’s the chocolate?