Jan 29, 2021

11 Minutes a Day or 300 Minutes a Week: Exercise Your Option

Brits and Americans go into battle anew (but neither knows it)

By Ed Goldman

Walking for just 11 minutes a day can help to mitigate the damage done by the hours we spend sitting on our bums. 

‘ello! I wrote “bums,” not “buns.” The reason is because the new study was reported in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. Its physician contributors do not, repeat, do not talk like this: 

“Gotta bit o’ the ol’ Bubonic Plague, ‘ave we? We’ll soon ‘ave you right as rain, Guv! Spotta tea whilst we await the test results, what?”

Edgy Cartoon

“Ladies and gentlemen, the rolling scones!”

One just kind of gets in the mood to do that, especially if one suffers from occasional attacks of Anglophilia. You do, too? Well, right you are, and Bob’s your uncle!

—No, no, no. They don’t talk that way in the magazine, either, unless there’s a special Cockney edition I’m unaware of that gets distributed in East London. There, the slang even rhymes. It’s a bit like rap music but the lyrics have a lower body count. 

For example, they refer to a certain exercise as taking the “apples and pears” (stairs) and a treadmill as a “can’t keep still.” One spills “army and navy” (gravy) on oneself at family dinners. And— 

‘ello! We’re suddenly off-topic again—which is exercise, and how little it apparently takes to undo hours of physical inertia. At least in England. 

For me, exercise also helps undo mental inertia as well as physical discomfort. But it’s hard to excuse myself in the middle of an interview to go walk for 11 minutes—mainly because when I tell an interviewee what I’m about to do, the interviewee may think he or she is the cause of my mental inertia. Example:

ME: I need to take an 11-minute break. Be right back with you. Just having a spell of mental inertia.

INTERVIEWEE: Oh, REAlly?! You know, it’s not like I’VE been finding this all that stimulating, either.

ME: No, no, no. It isn’t you. It’s me.

INTERVIEWEE: That’s what my last romantic partner said while breaking up.

ME (Considering this): Oh. I know the person you’re referring to. We had coffee. Maybe it IS you.

Looking for a Great Gift?
Meanwhile, another study—this one published in the November issue of “Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise,” the monthly journal of the American College of Sports Medicine (my favorite bedtime reading after the obituary pages and bankruptcy filings)—says that you need to work out 300 minutes a week to lose weight.

That translates to five hours. Of course, it sounds more ominous than it really is, just like accepting a job to track down Mitch McConnell’s jawline or ethics. In reality, five hours of exercise a week are fewer than an hour a day:

10,080minutes in a week
– 300minutes of exercise
Subtotal:1,380minutes of sloth remaining


Now, when you compare the Brits’ suggestion of 11 minutes of exercise a day to the American College’s hour or so, your first reaction may be to hit yourself in the forehead and yell, “I’ve been a bloody septic tank me ‘ole life!” (“Septic tank” is rhyming Cockney slang for “Yank.” The Brits don’t seem to think highly of us, do they, Luv?) 

Before you pack up your household and move to Liverpool for a less strenuous lifestyle, however, bear in mind that Great Britain’s 11-minute program is merely suggested to help you undo the leg cramps and back spasms you may incur from sitting too long—whereas the peppier USofA’s one-hour approach may actually help you lose weight.

It’s a dilemma, all right. But let me offer a bit of anecdotal research. When I was in London with my daughter several years ago, I noticed that the average weight of middle-aged people attending the theatre was closer than I’d initially suspected to that of middle-aged people I’ve seen shopping in a California mall. The theatre attendees were better dressed and sounded chirpier, to be sure, but they hardly displayed physiques qualifying them to lecture us on, say, how to curb one’s food court carb loading.

I personally like combining the best of both worlds. In a moment, I’m going to rise from my desk chair and walk around the kitchen for 11 minutes while waiting for some frozen scones to bake. I realize scones originated in Scotland, not England, but there’s only so much hands-across-the-water a guy can promote in 11 minutes, what?!

Ed Goldman's column appears almost every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. A former daily columnist for the Sacramento Business Journal, as well as monthly columnist for Sacramento Magazine and Comstock’s Business Magazine, he’s the author of five books, two plays and one musical (so far).