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Saturday, 21 April, 2001, 23:30 GMT 00:30 UK
Laying around is 'good for you'
Runners in last year's London Marathon
Runners in last year's London Marathon
The thousands taking part in Sunday's London Marathon may be disappointed to hear a German scientist's view that lazing around is more beneficial than exercise.

Doing as little as possible is better than forcing yourself to go to the gym, according to Professor Peter Axt.

He says laying about is the key to a long life and an antidote to professional stress.

Getting up early is likely to mean you are stressed for the rest of the day, says Prof Axt.

Just enjoy lazing around

Professor Peter Axt
Prof Axt, who has written On the Joy of Laziness, advised people to: "Waste half your free time. Just enjoy lazing around."

He added: "People who would rather laze in a hammock instead of running a marathon or who take a midday nap instead of playing squash have a better chance of living into old age."

He said he was in favour of moderate exercise such as walking, but said excessive exertion was not recommended.

Middle-aged people should be wary of using up their energy on activity, he said.

Prof Axt said: "Research shows that people who run long distances into their 50s are using up energy they need for other purposes."

He said they could suffer memory loss and risked premature senility.

Moderate activity 'recommended'

But Jeanette Hobart, vice-chairman of the UK's Keep Fit Association, which represents fitness instructors and encourages people to take all round care of their health, said people should do exercise which complements their lifestyle.

She said: "Activity has to be suited to the individual.

"Anybody who pushes themselves to go to the gym probably needs to do a different kind of exercise."

She said the recommendation was for 20 minutes of moderate exercise three times a week.

But she said: "If you've got a job where you do a lot of physical activity during the week, maybe you should just chill out at the weekend."

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