A few months ago, a doctor advised me to start walking twice a day for my health. The problem with this and with any other form of exercise for me was that it was a bore and a chore. Only one time in my life when I was truly fit was in school around the 9th grade when I started exercising while watching TV. In higher classes, I stopped watching so much television and my health correspondingly worsened. In college, our hostels were almost 2km away from the institute where the classes took place. This meant a nice walk in the morning, a less nice round trip in the blazing afternoon for lunch and another one in the evening. No fat on the body then.
When I moved to Bangalore, I found the traffic and parking situation so appalling that I refrained from buying my own vehicle for almost 4 years preferring to use the bus. This again meant a significant amount of walking wherever I went. This stopped after I married and a car became a necessity. Under a combination of better food (my wife is a gifted cook) and a second-hand car, my weight ballooned until my wife started to complain.
So, the walks started. This time, I adopted an approach I had come across on Neil Gaiman’s blog. Gaiman faced the same problem. Exercise was a boring necessity. Many people try to alleviate the boredom by listening to music, but that didn’t work for him, nor was it likely to work for me. Instead, he started listening to audio books.
I did the same. It is addictive. Listening to a book is much slower than reading a book, but it also requires much less effort. I started listening to them while driving, cooking, trying to fall asleep or doing any other repetitive task. If you want to get started, you could try these public domain audiobooks for free from LibriVox. Their website is, https://librivox.org/. Or you can visit their Youtube channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChqTb4WRt9xWJ79hCLCRbaw.
I also started listening to podcasts especially those on history and politics such as Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History. Finally, I started downloading stuff from the BBC Radio which has a magnificent collection of audio programs and podcasts for free access online.
There is one program I would like to recommend. I have used it as a reference on several of my posts and it has inspired me many times. It remains the most intelligent, interesting and varied discussion program I have ever come across. I am referring to Melvyn Bragg’s In Our Time. The format is simple, Bragg the presenter takes a different topic each week and invites 3 or 4 experts to the studio to discuss it with him. To give you an idea of the breadth of the program, one week they discussed the Battle of Salamis, in the next one they talked about the 18th century Japanese artist Hokusai and in the one after that they discussed the life and work of the Nobel prize winning physicist Wolfgang Pauli.