Servicemen from Iraq and Afghanistan

Supporting troops needn’t mean backing war

It’s embarrassment, isn’t it? That’s the only explanation. It’s good old-fashioned British horror of anything that might provoke any kind of controversy, any public display of untoward emotion.

That’s why the local authorities of this country have displayed such glacial indifference to the 13,000 servicemen returning this autumn – hundreds of them grievously injured – from the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan.

That’s why the Chief of the General Staff, Sir Richard Dannatt, was driven to his sad complaint last week.

That’s why there will be no parties or treats for men and women who have given so much.

That’s why no one is laying on a parade. It’s nothing to do with our so-called stiff upper lip, or dislike of show. Don’t give me that guff.

This is a nation awash with cheap sentimentality, a nation that went into an ecstasy of mourning for the death of the Princess of Wales, and which is still far more interested – to judge by the news coverage – in the fate of one four-year-old girl than in the losses and injuries now being sustained by the entire Armed Forces.

But when British politicians, local and national, try to imagine any public act of thanksgiving for military sacrifice, they go into a kind of swoon.

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There’s a reason your co-worker, best friend and brother can’t get enough of their workouts. Exercise is a body- and mind-altering experience, and those who engage in it understand why it’s truly worth the sweat.


“It can literally change your mind, your body, your metabolism, hormones, bone structure, lung capacity, blood volume, sex drive, cognitive function and so much more,” Chris Fernandez, an ACE-certified personal trainer, tells

Adults should aim to get at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a week, plus two strength-training sessions, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. You can divide that into at least five days of 30-minute workouts, or fewer longer sessions, as outlined in the chart below. If you prefer vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise, like HIIT or running, aim for 75 to 150 minutes a week.


How Often Should You Exercise?

Duration of Moderate-Intensity Cardio Minimum Cardio Workouts per Week
30 minutes 5
45 minutes 4
60 minutes 3

However you choose to move, make it a point to vary your workouts. It’s easy to fall into a rut of jogging every day or even lifting weights on back-to-back sessions. But by mixing up your workouts, you’ll challenge your body in new ways.

A well-balanced workout routine includes aerobic exercise and resistance training, as well as mobility and recovery days, explains Leada Malek, a certified sports and conditioning specialist (CSCS) and board-certified physical therapist.


Avoid skimping on rest days. If you don’t allow your muscles to recover properly in between your workouts, you run the risk of overtraining, which can reverse the benefits of exercise and cause muscle fatigue and weaken your immune system.

10 Big Exercise Benefits

Once you have a consistent workout routine in place, you’ll start to reap the many perks of regular activity. But why is exercise so good for you?


“Workouts can have a compounding effect on each other, and after several weeks, individuals will see clear and measurable benefits from their workout regimen,” says Alex Rothstein, an exercise science instructor at the New York Institute of Technology and certified personal trainer.

But the benefits of exercise extend beyond stronger muscles and more stamina. You may also improve your mood and energy levels and help your heart health. Here are a few reasons you should make an effort to move more throughout the week. Visit

1. It May Help You Live Longer

There is no shortage of studies that tout the life-extending effects of exercise. A July 2020 ​BMJ​ study found folks who work out regularly with a mix of cardio and strength training had a greatly reduced risk of all-cause mortality, including from heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

In fact, research shows that as little as 5 to 10 minutes of vigorous exercise (or 15 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise) each day is linked to a lower risk of death from any cause, according to a March 2019 study in the ​British Journal of Sports Medicine​.

The best part: You aren’t required to do any specific type of exercise. Walking at a cadence of 100 steps or more per minute is tied to benefits, per a small May 2018 study in the ​British Journal of Sports Medicine​.

If weight lifting is more your style, research from a June 2016 study in ​Preventive Medicine​ shows pumping iron is also linked to your lifespan. Researchers conducted a 15-year study and found older adults who lifted weights at least twice a week had a 46 percent lower risk of all-cause, cancer and cardiac death compared to those who didn’t lift.

And it’s never too late to start exercising. A June 2019 study in ​BMJ​ of 14,599 adults ages 49 to 70 found those who increased their overall physical activity to 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week had a 24 percent lower risk of death.

Related Reading

The Ultimate Guide to Strength Training Over 50

2. Exercise Can Improve Your Cognitive Function

Working out can support focus and attention, as well as increase your motor reaction time — all reasons Wendy Suzuki, PhD, professor of neural science and psychology at New York University, personally likes to break a sweat in the morning.

“Exercise has the capacity to change the brain’s anatomy, physiology and function for the better,” after just one workout, even a walk, Suzuki says.

Doing some form of exercise, especially an aerobic workout, improves blood flow and delivers oxygen directly to the brain tissue, says Jocelyn Bear, PhD, a board-certified neurologist based in Boulder, Colorado.

Breaking a sweat also releases brain-derived neurotropic factors, or growth factors, that “stimulate the birth of even more new brain cells,” Suzuki says. These new brain cells allow the hippocampus — a part of the brain involved in memory and learning — to grow bigger while increasing memory function, according to a January 2011 research article in the ​Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America​.

“The hippocampus is one of the most vulnerable [of the major brain structures] to neurodegenerative disease states,” Suzuki says, noting that Alzheimer’s disease attacks it with its plaques and tangles.

“Exercise does not cure Alzheimer’s or aging, but the more you work out, the more cells and connections are made and the longer it takes for those aging processes to have an effect,” she explains.

According to Bear, “having a high cardiovascular fitness, even in middle age, has been tied to a lower risk of developing dementia or a later onset of dementia.”

An April 2018 study in the ​Journal of Neurology ​evaluated the exercise habits of older adults in Sweden over a 44-year period and found those who were considered high-fit (people without health conditions who were physically active) staved off the onset of dementia by 9.5 years compared to those deemed low-fit (who had health conditions) and medium-fit (people who engaged in little physical activity and lived with some health conditions).

3. It Can Lift Your Spirits

Exercise can also help your mood by decreasing symptoms of anxiety and depression. That’s because “every single time you exercise, it’s like you are giving your brain a bubble bath of mood-enhancing neurochemicals,” Suzuki says.

When you move, your body releases endorphins, aka feel-good chemicals, and serotonin, which contributes to less depression, stress and anxiety and enhanced emotional wellness, says Julia Kogan, PsyD, a certified group fitness instructor and coordinator of an integrative primary care behavioral health program at Jess Brown VA Medical Center in Chicago.

The Future of Belgium

End of Belgium should be a warning to Gordon

At the end of some office crisis, the late, great Bill Deedes had a way of turning to you – if you were lucky enough to have been through the crisis with him – and saying, in his conspiratorial way: “Well, old cock, I think we got through that one all right.”

And that, I imagine, is the feeling in Downing Street today. The panic is over, apparently. The queues of frenzied depositors have died away. By the amazing expedient of nationalising Northern Wreck, and by offering unlimited sums of taxpayers’ money to guarantee the liquidity of everyone else, Gordon Brown seems to have contained the damage caused by the first run on the banks since the collapse of Overend and Gurney in 1866.

So, before the next building society goes belly up, and before Gordon uses yet more of our dosh to protect the financiers from the consequences of their reckless deals, let me warn the Prime Minister of another crisis on the horizon; a problem that is more pregnant with risk for this country than any collapse of the housing market.

Once again the bad news comes from abroad, and no, I am not talking about American mortgages, or the terrifying prospect of a Bush-led bombing raid on Iran.

It is a sign of this column’s complete indifference to fashion that this week I take my text from Belgium.

Yes, Belgium is the place that Gordon should be watching: because lovely, misty little Belgium, with its triste cobbled streets and Calpol-tasting beer, is now on the verge of a tragic disintegration. For 102 days, the country has been without a government. The Walloons can’t abide the Flemings, and the Flemings want to maroon the Walloons, and there is now a real chance that they will call it quits.

Continue reading The Future of Belgium

The McCann Controversy

Madeleine McCann saga reflects our society

I can’t stand it any more. I can’t stand the dizzying manipulation of my sympathies.

First I had a pretty clear idea of what had happened to poor little Maddie McCann.

Then all these horrible rumours started to emanate from the Portuguese police, and my emotions lurched off in the opposite direction; and then there would be a pretty compelling counter-rumour, and a learned essay from some expert in forensic science explaining that DNA tests were not all they were cracked up to be, until I have reached the position at 5.30 on Wednesday afternoon – the latest I dare to sit down to write this piece – when I frankly haven’t got a clue what to think.

I look in vain for guidance to the tabloid press, with its legions of reporters in Praia da Luz and long expertise in knowing which way to fan the hysteria of their readers. Which is it?

Are the McCann parents a brace of cold-hearted child killers who have managed to concoct a gigantic fraud involving the police forces of western Europe, the Papacy and hundreds of yellow ribbon-wearing British MPs?

Or are they loving and normal parents who have fallen victim to a terrible crime, and who now see their agony compounded by a half-baked stitch-up operation conducted by Portugal’s equivalent of Inspector Clouseau?

Either way, it is a sensational tabloid story; and yet the papers cannot go either way. The journalists are stuck in the middle, uncertain, cautious, hedging.

The heavy artillery of Fleet Street have their barrels loaded, ready to make either case. But they don’t dare to fire them. They don’t know. I don’t know. You don’t know. None of us knows.

We are all in principle on a huge knife-edge of doubt – and yet that is not, alas, how so many of us behave.

More and more of us now seem willing to blame the McCanns, and with every hour that passes we seem to forget that we have a presumption of innocence in this country.

With ever growing confidence we tap our noses and roll our eyes and aver that we always thought there was something rum about the whole business.

We pass on – with every sign of authority – some weird allegation we have picked up from the internet or the unpasteurised Portuguese press, and that bacillus mutates in the UK tabloids into something yet more frightful before being passed back to the Portuguese; and so the cycle continues.

Continue reading The McCann Controversy

London buses


Boris: Why Londoners should vote for me

It is one of the most tragic sights of the London streets. There she is, exhausted, in high heels, weighed down at either hand with heavy shopping.

And suddenly there is her bus, steaming past her to pull up a hundred yards ahead; and, as it overtakes her, she gives a sudden gasp of panic and breaks into a trot, and as she gets closer she sees the doors hiss open, and the passengers start to get on and off, and now the stream has turned into a trickle, and she lifts a bag-weighted hand to wave at the driver, because she is now close enough to see his impassive face in his kerb-side mirror, and they make eye contact, and her face turns into a rictus of entreaty and exertion.

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