Professor Adam Hart, 46, is a biologist and professor of science communication at the University of Gloucestershire where he lectures on life sciences degrees. He is married and has four kids. In addition to teaching and science communication activities, he conducts scientific research, animal studies in Great Britain and ecology and nature conservation in southern Africa.
: Do you take regular exercise and if so, what?
A: I like to stay active, but it is not always that easy to adapt. My main exercise is walking and I am fortunate enough to live in the countryside and have some great walks on my doorstep. My eldest daughter is also a big fan of walks, which means I have to take my time to accommodate her. As a biologist and much more at home than in the laboratory, I’m an avid nature fan, and that also helps to make sure I’m on the go. My father lived with a bad back for most of his life and I want to avoid that. When I lived in Sheffield, I did quite a bit of climbing and got into the habit of doing pull-ups every day. I still make sure to fit more or less into a few sentences of this each day, and so far I seem to have escaped the family’s “back curse”.
Q: What’s the worst illness you’ve had?
A: I was very lucky and have never been so sick. I ate some seedy oysters once and the next day was pretty terrible. I was supposed to be a judge in a debate contest in Bristol, but when I got there it was clear that wasn’t going to happen. The subsequent drive home to Gloucestershire was not the most pleasant I have ever had.
Q: How healthy is your diet?
A: I would say pretty healthy. My family history tends to be obese, so I’ve always been reasonably careful about what I eat long term without worrying too much about it. My wife has a Masters in Human Nutrition, and we both enjoy cooking and good food, which I think goes a long way in maintaining a reasonable overall balance.
Q: Any bad habits?
A: I rarely have a good start to the day when it comes to food, and by 11 a.m. I’m often quite hungry. I have to work hard to avoid candy bars.
Q: Do you drink and smoke / if so, how much?
A: I smoked in my teenage and twenties, but I quit when I was 26. I enjoyed smoking if I’m honest, but I’m very happy to have been a non-smoker for 20 years. I enjoy a drink, and I’ve overdone that at times in my life, but the wee hours of the morning with young kids don’t go well with nighttime drinking at all, so the past decade or so has been much more moderate than decades ago. I’m sure I enjoy a few cold beers or a glass or two of red wine these days, but I know how to stop.
Q: Are you taking any supplements?
A: I never felt like I actually needed them, but I also have very bad memories of taking pills.
Q: How do you take time out?
A: I like to read and walk and it all sounds very cerebral, but I also really enjoy watching TV, whether it’s good TV (I just watch the West Wing Full Box Set) or bad TV (I’m a sucker for reality shows).
Q: how well do you sleep?
A: I’ve always been lucky enough to be able to fall asleep very quickly and generally sleep up to five minutes before the alarm goes off, regardless of when it is set. Young children play havoc with sleep, however, and I’ve had a couple of years where five hours of trouble sleeping was a good night’s sleep. In this case, it is definitely an advantage to be able to fall asleep quickly.
Q: Do you worry about getting old?
A: Not yet. As they say, getting old is bad, but the alternative is worse.
Q: What is your favorite product that makes you feel healthy?
A: broccoli. I love it and always nibble it raw straight from the fridge. If I ever cook with it I’ll have to buy extra!
Professor Hart’s latest book, Unfit for Purpose, is about how our evolutionary history conflicts with our modern lifestyle and our modern world. He will speak with Emer Maquire on February 21st at 6 p.m. during the NI Science Festival 2021 – learn more at nisciencefestival.com. Follow him on Twitter @adamhartscience