October 22, 2020
News Opinion

MICHAEL WOLSEY: The ups and downs of indoor athletics

Staying in is the new going out and twiddling your thumbs has become a training exercise as people learn how to keep fit without leaving their living rooms.

I have been developing a little routine myself and I thought I might share it with you. I have, in fact, been working on this for some time now, but since the lockdown I have got it off to perfection.

It is very simple and requires no expensive equipment – no rowing machines or cross trainers, or any sort of special gear. All you need is a set of stairs, a pair of reading glasses and a coffee-maker. When you get proficient you may want to add a few other household items to your fitness pack, but those three will do to get you started.

It works like this.

I remember something I have left in a bedroom. It is a very important something and urgently required for the very important things I am about to do. So I go upstairs to fetch it.

I get distracted by something that is also very important, like the headline in an old newspaper which is lying on the bed. It’s shocking news. Or rather it was shocking news last week. Today it’s old news .

Unfortunately this old news has made me forget the very important thing I came upstairs to fetch. So I go back down. A more recent newspaper is on the table. It may have better news, so I look for my glasses to check it out.

My late wife was very good at finding my glasses. She could never find her own but she was great at finding mine. I am not so good – and if I don’t find them I will not be able to do those very important things.

I check in the kitchen. No sign of the glasses but I see the coffee machine has a capsule ready for insertion. I left it there before I got distracted by the very important things I have to do.

I’ll make that coffee now but … I wonder are my glasses upstairs? I sometimes leave them upstairs in the room with the computer.

I go up and into the bedroom. This is not the computer room, I know, but I’ve a very important thing to collect here. If only I could remember what it is. My glasses? No – they might be in the computer room, though. But there’s no sign of them there so I go downstairs.

Hey, here are the glasses. In the kitchen, beside the coffee machine.

Wrong. Beside the coffee machine is the case for the glasses but it is empty. Where are the actual glasses? Upstairs, I’ll bet. I’ll just put on this coffee and then I’ll check.

Or maybe I should look for the glasses first. I have very important things to be doing, after all. I go upstairs.

On an average day I may make 40 pointless journeys up the stairs. Add to that another 40 necessary return journeys and I’m notching up a mini-marathon every 24 hours. Frustrated but fit, that’s me.

I note that two researchers at the University of Toronto have concluded that forgetting is just as important as remembering.

“It’s important that the brain forgets irrelevant details and instead focuses on the stuff that’s going to help make decisions in the real world,” they say.

Very wise. I must remember that.

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