x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 July 2017

An end to austerity

Many New Year's resolutions have probably already been broken. Not to worry. Dr Tom Smith, the Guardian newspaper's resident medic, has prescribed an unlikely set of goals.

Many New Year's resolutions have probably already been broken. Not to worry. Dr Tom Smith, the Guardian newspaper's resident medic, has prescribed an unlikely set of goals. Be slightly overweight and make sure not to exercise too much, he wrote on Saturday. He might be on to something. There's enough austerity as it is these days.

The good doctor claims that by following his seven-step plan, readers are on their way to a happier, healthier future. "You really don't need to worry if you are a little overweight - provided you aren't more than around 5kg from the ideal weight for your height," he says.

To challenge the thinking of those among the crazed health brigade, Dr Smith goes further. Too much exercise lowers levels of BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor), which apparently stimulates the formation of new connections between brain cells. Perhaps that explains the zombie-like expressions of the muscle-bound?

And for those of us who enjoy the sun, we might not be so unhealthy after all. "One way to pump up your brainpower may be simply to sit in bright light for a few hours each day. Trends in cognitive sciences reported that people performed better in mental tests when under bright light," says Dr Smith. It's reassuring news for those of us in the Gulf. So here's a resolution: get a refund on your gym membership and take everyone out for shwarma with the money you save.