Being a Pilates fan, I was a bit miffed to read a new study by the University of Wisconsin, which says that the activity isn't intense enough to count towards the 30 minutes' exercise a day we are all meant to be clocking. The researchers found that, although Pilates participants felt they were working 'moderately to very hard', their heart rate and oxygen consumption were below the thresholds designated to indicate cardiovascular training. That's not to say it's not worth doing, mind. 'Pilates is a great form of exercise,' says the American Council on Exercise, which funded the study, 'particularly for building a strong core and increasing flexibility.' It's just that, to cover all the bases, you'll have to walk, run or cycle to your class, too.
If you are one of those hateful people who are 'up and at 'em' first thing in the morning, just sit down. Scientists from the University of Colorado have discovered that the brain is on a serious go-slow when we first wake up - so much so that subjects' short-term memory, counting skills and cognitive abilities were more severely diminished during the groggy period after waking up than after being deprived of sleep for 24 hours. The worst effects, say the researchers, dissipated after 10 minutes, but there were still traces of 'sleep inertia' after two hours. Another cup of tea, anyone?
Being stuck in a traffic jam is no excuse for shirking on exercise, apparently. Instead of letting road rage get the better of you, slip Motorobics, a new in-car workout CD, into your stereo and get busy with that steering wheel. Much as I was tempted to ridicule the notion of exercising in the car, the plan is actually very sound, the exercises (to tone muscles, improve posture and relieve tension) viable and the instructions clear. One word of warning: unless you're parked in a service station under cover of darkness, give the facial exercises a miss. I promise you'll look insane doing them at the traffic lights. Motorobics, £16.79 (includes workout CD and visual demo DVD), from deanhodgkin.com or 0800 504030.
While 'technical' sportswear is lighter and more breathable than cotton, it doesn't half whiff after a workout. But constant washing always seems to leave reflective strips and logos peeling off, whites looking grey and some items, such as thermals and waterproofs, not living up to their name. At the risk of sounding like one of those women on washing powder adverts - 'Oh, yes, Chris, my whites really are whiter...', Penguin Sport-Wash, specifically designed for hi-tech fabrics, seems to have solved the problem. At £16.99 for a bottle containing 18washes, it's not cheap, but then again, nor was that wind-cheating, waterproof gilet with go-faster stripes. For stockists call 01923 242233.