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Research a book about exercise science and you'll learn many things, including that sit-ups can be bad for your back and running good for your knees; that massage may not, in the ways long suspected, ease overtaxed muscles (even though it feels wonderful); and that most of the health benefits of exercise, for someone who's been wedded to her couch, accrue in the first 20 minutes or so of a workout. But some lessons have proved to be especially persuasive. These are the tips I actually use, to the benefit of my body and the occasional amusement of my husband.

Stand up to stave off pounds.

Writing about exercise almost ensures that you won't have time to do any, and I had expected to emerge from my writing cave wan and pudgy. Wan happened. But pudgy didn't, thanks in part to my reading about studies conducted at the University of Massachusetts, in which volunteers spent one day sitting and then another standing or walking nonstop. The difference in energy expenditure was "hundreds of calories," Barry Braun, PhD, a kinesiologist who oversaw the study, told me. I now leave my chair while talking on the phone and keep a music stand in my office so I can spend some time upright while reading. I love science that validates both my vanity (don't want a wide waist) and my laziness (happy to just stand there).

Next: The stork method of tooth brushing and why you should be using it

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