‘Slow, deep breathing changed my life’: Michael Mosley’s favorite health tip | Michael Mosley

METERichael Mosley popularized health by becoming a guinea pig for self-experiments on television and radio. He ate tapeworms for a documentary and then swallowed a camera to examine them wriggling inside him. Similarly, he tried vaping, magic mushrooms, leeches and snake venom, all in the name of TV science.

After being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2012, Mosley, who had trained as a doctor, cured himself of the disease through intermittent fasting and captured it all on camera.

Mimi Spencer, co-author of a book with Mosley on diet, said her approach helped simplify difficult topics. “His methodology was to take complex ideas and make them much more available and accessible,” she told BBC Radio 4’s World This Weekend. She added: “He used himself as a human guinea pig. He did it because he was fascinated by science. But he was also very interested in getting a story to people.”

It worked. Fast Diet, the book he co-authored with Spencer, sold 1.4 million copies. His current book, Four Weeks to Better Sleep, is high on bestseller lists. And his Just One Thing radio and podcast series on health and wellbeing advice has had more than 25 million listeners, making it the BBC’s most popular podcast.

Mosley took a circuitous route to writing and disseminating health issues. He was born in Calcutta, India, in 1957 and studied PPE at Oxford; Among his contemporaries there were Theresa May and Damian Green. After university he went into banking, but then retrained as a doctor, where he met his future wife, Clare Bailey.

He became a GP, but Mosley thought he might be better suited to a career with the BBC. He worked as a producer on science shows such as Tomorrow’s World and Horizon. But his real success came after he started appearing in front of the camera.

More recently, Mosley and Bailey have collaborated on books about food and performed stage shows together. They have four children.

Professor Andrew Steptoe, director of behavioral and health sciences at University College London, who has appeared on some of Mosley’s programmes, said: “He did a fantastic job of popularizing health promotion and disease prevention. “I was very focused on encouraging people to do things that would increase their wellbeing and reduce their risk of disease before it started.”

Asked last month about the success of Just One Thing, Mosley told Radio Wales: “I’ve been completely blown away by how popular it is. But I really love having the opportunity to chat with experts and try things. And I try them all. And some of them stay. Some of them don’t. I still do most of them, but I tend to rotate them.”

The show began during the Covid lockdown when Mosley converted a room in his Buckinghamshire home into a makeshift sound studio by muffling the sound with clothes from his wife’s wardrobe. Since then, the show has explored more than 90 health tips in 15-minute programs. Topics covered include the latest health trends: green tea, flax seeds, olive oil, jumping, ironing and turmeric.

But they have also reflected Mosley’s interest in mental health. There have been episodes about volunteering, reading poetry, playing a musical instrument, being kind, and laughing.

When asked to pick his favorite tip from Just One Thing, Mosley said, “I would probably say breathe slow and deep because it has really changed my life. Over the past 30 years I have struggled a lot with sleep. I find that by breathing deeply, within a couple of minutes I usually fall back asleep.”

The success of the series led the BBC to commission a television version which, before Mosley’s death, was due to be broadcast in the autumn. Mosley said he had filmed episodes about dancing in Blackpool and walking with Nordic poles in the Lake District.

Steptoe said: “He looked at health in a holistic way, not just talking about actions like exercise and diet, but also how people’s morale and psychological well-being could be supported. In my last long interview with him last fall, we talked about the crucial role of social relationships and actively participating in purposeful activities. He spoke very warmly about his wife and his family and I am very sorry for her loss.”

Spencer added: “What has happened is unbearably sad. My heart goes out to Claire and the family. He told me endless stories about what his children were doing. He cared enormously about them and I know they are going through hell right now and my heart goes out to them today.”

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