5 alternatives to the gym



The NHS recommends at least 3 hours of moderate exercise per week to stay healthy. But If you are like me and feel intimated by all the super-toned people at the gym here are some ideas you can incorporate into your everyday routine instead;

1. Fidgeting

Although this may annoy anyone you sit next, people who fidget burn around 300 extra calories per day. If you take the average calories content of a pound of body fat to be 3500, (300×365)/3500 = 31.3 pounds is how much weight you could lose in a year, besides the increased muscle tone you would eventually get. Fidgeting doesn’t have to mean simply tapping your foot; other ways include walking around whilst on the phone and getting up from your desk about once every hour to do a few stretches.

2. At-home workout videos

Thanks mainly to YouTube, you can now have a virtual personal trainer for free in your own home. My favourite channel by far is Fitness Blender who have videos for all ages/abilities/muscle groups etc. Alternatively, if you have game such as Just Dance, do a couple of dances for cardio and in between do a few minutes of strength training such as lifting weights (bottles of water work well if you don’t have dumbbells) or doing abs exercises such as crunches.

3.  Gardening

Gardening is a great overall workout that you probably you don’t realise you’re doing; 30 minutes digging followed by 30 minutes planting seeds burns around 400 calories! The best part is you’ll have an amazing garden to enjoy in the spring and summer.

4. Dancing

I went properly clubbing for the first time this week, and after a few hour of non-stop dancing my stomach felt like I’d just done 1000 crunches. Okay, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but dancing burns 200-400 calories per hour (the crazier the dancing the  better the workout!), and you’ll probably be having too much fun to realise you’re exercising.

5. Ditch the car/bus

This may seem obvious but walk/cycle whenever you can. Although it may be more time consuming in that a 10 minute car/bus journey probably takes 30 minutes to walk, you get to enjoy the fresh air and see some wildlife early in the morning/late in the evening you otherwise wouldn’t see.


The Lac Operon

Explain genetic control of protein production in a prokaryote using the lac operon


E-coli grown without lactose are placed in a medium with lactose. At first they cannot metabolise the lactose as they only have tiny amounts of the enzymes needed to metabolise it. After a few minutes the rate of synthesis of these enzymes increases. Lactose triggers the production of these enzymes and so is the inducer.

the lac operonStructural genes code for the enzyme, the operator region can switch them on and off, and the promoter region is where RNA polymerase binds to begin transcription. The regulatory gene is not part of the operon and may be some distance away.

 lactose absent

When lactose is absent:

  1. The regulator gene is expressed and the repressor protein is synthesised. It has binding sites for lactose and the operator region.
  2. he repressor protein binds to the operator region, covering part of the promoter region where RNA polymerase attaches.
  3. RNA polymerase cannot bind to the promoter region so the structural genes are not transcribed to mRNA, so the genes cannot be translated into the two enzymes.

lactose present

When lactose ispresent:

  1. Lactose (inducer) molecules bind to the other site on the repressor protein, causing the repressor protein to change shape and dissociate from the operator region.
  2. The promoter region is now unblocked so RNA polymerase can bind to it and initiate transcription.
  3. The operator-repressor-inducer system is a molecular switch.
  4. The E. coli can now make lactose permease to take up lactose and β-galactosidase to convert it into glucose for respiration.

Here is an animation which summarises the above:

2013! :D

Firstly, I’d just like to say HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!!! And also thank you SO MUCH for visiting my blog, I’m surprised how well it’s done in such a short time, so for my first (well, second if you count the stats thing :p) post of what I hope to be a fantastic year, I thought I’d share with you my New Year’s Resolutions:


5 Minutes of German EVERY DAY: I tried this one last year and failed after about 2 weeks, which was admittedly quite an achievement (for me, at least) as my target last year was 20 minutes a day, but hopefully with the more reachable target of listening to a song or reading ashort article I might actually be able to get the A or A* I desperately want in the summer. (Although I sincerely hope my german teacher isn’t reading this!)


RAOK: Lately I’ve been helping out my parents more, much to my revision’s detriment, but there is no better gift than that of kindness, so even when I’m really stressed and tired I’ll do my best to forget about my problems and simply smile and be nice, even if it causes me great pains to do so! A challenge indeed!


Health Kick: My latest tactic of skipping lunch wasn’t the most successful, but I’ve already managed to go 3 whole days without coffee! Not that I’m addicted, I just have so many new syrups and flavoured coffees that I’ve been having 2 or 3 cups a day, which really isn’t good, so here’s to a year of less chocolate and coffee and strawberry ribeana squash (which I admit I really am addicted to! It’s soo good though, you should try it 🙂 )


Blogging: Lastly, and probably most importantly for you, beloved reader, is that I am going to try REALLY hard to post at least 3 times a week (i.e. every other day when I can) and none of this holiday slacking! This’ll be tough with all my January exams so I’m not going to set a minimum length, but I hope it’ll get me some regular followers to build a little community here on tis blog 🙂

So it remains for me to wish you a fabulous new year, and here’s to a fresh start 🙂

Homeostasis: Maintaining Body Temperature

Key Definitions:

  • Ectotherm: regulates body temp. via external sources e.g. the sun
  • Endotherm: can generate heat internally to regulate body temp.  e.g. metabolism in the liver.
  • Negative feedback: brings a reversal of any change of conditions back to the optimal conditions.




• Need less food as less is used in respiration, so can go for long periods of time without food and more energy obtained from food can be used for growth.


• At greater risk of predation as less active in cool environments and may need to warm up in the mornings before they can become active.
• May be incapable of activity in winter months so need to build up large energy store so can survive without eating.
Ectotherms change their behaviour or physiology to react to environmental temperature changes:
• Expose body to sun to enable more heat to be absorbed
• Orientate body towards sun so larger S.A for heat absorption (or away from sun so less heat absorbed)
• Hide in burrow reducing heat absorption
• Alter body shape to expose smaller/greater S.A to sun
• Increase rate of breathing so more water evaporates
welcome and be happy
• Fairly constant body temp. despite any external temp. changes
•  Can be active when it’s cold i.e. night/morning/winter and so can live in colder parts of the planet


• Large proportion of food intake used to maintain body temp, so more food is needed, and less food is used for growth.

Physiological adaptations:

• Water can evaporate from lungs/nose/mouth or from the skin when the sweat glands produce sweat
• Hairs on skin can be raised/lowered to trap greater/smaller insulating air layer
• Vasodilation/vasoconstriction in arterioles leading to skin to increase/decrease radiation of heat at skin surface
• Liver cells can alter their rate of metabolism
• Skeletal muscles can contract spontaneously ti generate heat via respiration in muscle cells (shivering)

Behavioural adaptations:

• Move into shade/hide in burrow
• Orientate body towards/away from the sun

 Remain inactive and spread out limbs to increase S.A, or roll into a ball to decrease S.A


Body temperature in endotherms is controlled by negative feedback:


The body also contains peripheral temperature receptors located at the extremities so there is a quicker reaction to external temp. changes as core body temperature may take some time to decrease enough for the hyperthalomous to detect a significant change.

Diet and Food Production

Balanced Diet: a diet which contains all the nutrients required for health in the appropriate proportions.


  • Obesity is when a person is 20% or heavier than the recommended weight for their height. Obesity is caused through malnutrition, which is where a person’s diet is unbalanced. In this case of malnutrition, the person consumes too much energy and the excess is deposited as fat in the adipose tissues which can impair health. The conditions most commonly associated with obesity are cancer, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, gallstones, osteoarthritis and high blood pressure (hypertension).


  • High blood cholesterol is linked with coronary heart disease. Although it’s found in cell membranes, the skin and is used to make steroid sex hormones and bile, above 5.2mmol/dm3 is harmful. Cholesterol is insoluble but is carried by HDL’S and LDL’s. Lipoproteins are a combination of lipid, cholesterol and protein.
    •  HDL’s contain unsaturated fat and tend to carry cholesterol from the body tissues back to the liver where it’s used in cell metabolism to make bile or is broken down, meaning high levels of HDL’s are associated with reducing blood cholesterol levels. They reduce deposition of cholesterol in the artery walls (called atherosclerosis) and may help to remove the depositions already there.
    • LDL’s contain saturated fats. They tend to carry cholesterol to body tissue from the liver. The concentration of LDL’s in the blood increases when a diet contains too much saturated fat and cholesterol. High LDL levels result in deposition in the artery walls.
      • Saturated fats decrease the activity of LDL receptors in body tissue so as the concentration of blood LDL’s rises; less is removed resulting in higher LDL concentrations and more deposition. Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats increase the activity of LDL receptors so more is removed from the blood.
    • Coronary heart disease: a condition in which the coronary arteries narrow from an accumulation of plaque (atherosclerosis) and cause a decrease in blood flow.
  • Humans depend on plants for all food as they are the basis of all food chains. This is because humans eat both plants directly, and herbivores who eat plants.
  • Making food production more efficient:
    • Plants:
      • Improve growth rate, increase yield, reduce crop loss due to diseases/pests, easier harvest by standardising crop size, and improve response to fertilisers.
    • Animals:
      • Improve growth rate, increase productivity, and increase resistance to disease
    • Selective breeding:
      • Isolation → artificial selection → inbreeding/line breeding
      • A pair of animals displaying desirable characteristics is allowed to reproduce. The offspring are sorted and those with the best combinations of characteristics are allowed to reproduce. Over many generations this exaggerated the desired characteristic.
      • Selecting which animals can breed or which seeds to be sown is known as applying selection pressure.
    • Pesticides, fungicides and fertilisers increase plant yield as they are less likely to die from insects eating them or a fungal disease, and the fertilisers provide all the minerals the plant needs to grow so it can grow faster. Antibiotics can increase food production of animals as fewer animals die from disease so a higher yield is achieved.


  • Methods of preventing food spoilage;
    • Cooking – denatures enzymes and other proteins killing microorganisms
    • Pasteurising – heat then rapid cooling kills microorganisms
    • Drying/salting/coating in sugar all dehydrate microorganisms as water will leave their cells by osmosis
    • Smoking – smoke contains antibacterial chemicals and the food develops a hardened, dry outer surface.
    • Pickling – an acidic pH kills microorganisms by denaturing enzymes and other proteins.
    • Irradiation – ionising radiation disrupts the DNA structure of microorganisms so they are killed.
    • Cooling/freezing – although microorganisms aren’t killed, the activity of their enzymes is slowed so their metabolism/growth/reproduction is also slow.
  • Using microorganisms to make food (e.g. cheese/yoghurt/bread/alcohol/single cell protein (Quorn – a mycoprotein)
    • Advantages:
      • Can be much faster than animal/plant production
      • Production can be increased/decreased according to demand
      • No animal welfare issues
      • Good source of protein for vegetarians
      • Protein contains no animal fat or cholesterol
      • SCP could be combined with removal of waste products, as they grow on almost any organic substrate e.g. paper or whey
    • Disadvantages:
      • People might not want to eat fungi or food grown on waste
      • Need to isolate protein from the microorganisms in the fermenter
      • Protein needs purification so it’s not contaminated
      • Need to control infection – the microorganisms grow at the same temperatures as harmful pathogens
      • Palatability – the protein has a different taste/texture to meat

Sugarless Chocolate Muffins

Ingredients (for 12)

  • 4 tbsp cooking oil (sunflower or peanut work best)
  • 225g plain flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp all spice
  • 2 large eggs
  • 175ml unsweetened orange juice
  • 1 tsp grated orange rind
  • 40g fresh blueberries


1. Line a muffin baking tray with either oil or paper cases

2. Sift the flour, baking powder, cocoa powder and all spice into a mixing bowl

3. In a seperate mixing bowl whisk the eggs with the oil, then add the orange juice, orange rind and blueberries, stirring gently to mix it together.

4. Pour the orange juice mixture into the bowl with the dry ingredients and stir until they are just combined

5. Divide the mixture into the muffin tray (each case should be about 2/3 full)

6. Place in a pre-heated oven at gas mark 6 (200°C/400°F) for 20 minutes, or until the muffins have risen and are a golden colour.

7. Serve immediately, or leave them on a wire rack to cool