How to finish a PhD – part two: keep calm and exercise

This post should definitely come with a disclaimer: I AM NOT AN EXERCISER. I am the opposite of exercise. I occasionally do it (infrequently enough that when I told my boyfriend yesterday I had a new running technique, he replied “What? Not running?”), but here’s the lowdown on that situation:

How I *think I look while exercising:

*not even really

How I actually look:

But the sense of serendipity was not lost on me when one morning I was out running and my favourite podcast had a really interesting piece about how detrimental long periods of sitting can be to our health. Here’s the piece. (And if you don’t already listen to Quirks and Quarks, why the hell not??)

People who spend a lot of their day sitting are at a much higher risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The study also found that even people who do quite a lot of exercise are still at risk if they then go and sit in an office all day – so imagine the rest of us shmucks, who barely exercise at all? PhD students, especially those in your write-up year – think critically about how much time you spend on your butt. I’m not even a field-based biologist but the transition into full-time office worker was really striking for me as I entered my final year. So how’s that for a motivator?

And you know the rest: exercise improves your mood, reduces rates of depression, and all those things the PE teacher yelled at you while you were dragging yourself across the sports pitch (or trying to sack off with “cramps”). But seriously – I started running on and off about six months ago, and though I’m still the worst runner in the world, the days when I do drag my butt out of bed and round Midsummer Common, I feel more energetic, more motivated – and, at this uncertain crazy time of my PhD, like I’m taking control of at least one aspect of my life. That’s a powerful feeling. So – prioritize exercise. Catch up with other scientists who have embraced the same ethos at #rundouchery. Like me, be proud of your rubbish exercise achievements!

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