I wonder if that title put you off? Actually, I just want to be absolutely honest with you about i) the challenge and then ii) the benefits of exercise.
There are so many reasons why we don’t exercise enough: we don’t feel like it today; we don’t like gyms; we haven’t found a class; I’ve never done any exercise and not starting now; it’s too difficult; I’ve injured myself; I’m too stiff; I’m too tired, and the big one here, I’m too busy!
I get it, I really do. Don’t think for one moment that I find exercising easy. My whole approach since last year has been helped hugely because I finally found the right class – it took me over a year of going from class to class and rejecting them all, until, well, I knew immediately it was the right one for me. It’s Pilates. Consequently, as a result of going regularly to a Pilates class since April last year I stand straighter and my core muscles are stronger. My Pilates teacher is also a personal trainer and she set me off on the road of extra exercises during the week, plus weights. But. Due to my inconsistency in September, and not doing classes and exercises during that month, the two steps forward I’d taken became three back with an old injury of a trapped nerve in my shoulder worsening. By early January I’d given up the daily exercises and (you’d think I’d connect this with giving up the exercises) I was becoming so, so stiff and that round-shouldered look was returning. You think I look reasonably fit? You should see me when I get up – I lean forward and over to the right and am stiff as a board. I take over an hour to unravel. Note to self, never get ill and have to stay in bed for any reason.
I’m glad to report that I’m back doing the daily exercises, but I’m taking it very slow. And that, my personal trainer would say, is the way to do it. Do not rush into excessive exercising!
Btw, re: the idea of running that I have every now and then? In actuality, I never get beyond week 2 of Couch to 5K but have decided, come the Spring, to have another go.
There is so much evidence out there that activity brings about well-being and sharpens the mind. Here’s one piece of research out of many, saying that physical activity and increased motor skills contribute to a cognitive reserve, and that this activity even impacted on those with dementia.
I’m minded to write more about the NHS once a certain thing here in the UK is resolved (see My Other Blog for my view on that!) but I’ve always thought that we, as in us, should work on our fitness before we get frail. While it is so easy to slip back a bit, I do feel so very strongly that we have to take some responsibility for our ageing and not just expect to get stiff and old, because, hey, that’s what happens. No, we can do a lot for ourselves! And the NHS is apparently catching up on this with something called social prescribing (read more about it here) although it looks at the moment, to be still at the research/pilot stage.
But prescriptions for the gym? That would be so good! And there is another benefit that you get from joining a class – the feel of the class and the people you meet there. I haven’t yet had a coffee and cake with any of my class, but I might do! Apparently, cake after Park Runs (which is what I aspire to) is a big thing!
What we can all do
Btw, don’t think I’m here to preach. I fall off the wagon and get the hump like everyone else. But here are a few pointers which you can respond to by saying, well no I won’t do any of that, or yes, perhaps I can, or even, I’m doing this already!
- First, ask yourself: what is your blood pressure; how are your joints; do I have osteoporosis; am I fit enough? Do check your general fitness with your local health/general practitioner and be aware of your body and what it can and can’t do.
- Doing more exercise is not about joining a gym, I haven’t! And it need not be about joining a formal class – it can be whatever you want to do. You could join a rambling group; do the podcast Couch to 5K (and if you’re like me and you don’t progress, never mind, at least you’re attempting it); walk into town instead of taking the bus; learn to cycle, or dance. And don’t say I can’t because of my age. I’ve just listened to BBC Breakfast about getting more people cycling and there’s a 70+ woman telling us she started cycling at 70! And if you’re worried about safety on the roads, for her the initial training was the thing that reassured her and gave her confidence to bike anywhere including roads.
- I’d definitely recommend getting a Fitbit to check exactly how many steps you take during a day. I want to know if I’m doing too few steps, and am pleased when I see I’ve done a lot. And they’re great if you’re having an indoors day, for whatever reason, because every hour the Fitbit tells you to get up and take 150 or 250 steps – I like that! If a Fitbit is not for you, consider a simple pedometer, it could be an eye-opener.
- I’d say push yourself. Go for it and get out of that comfort zone. There’s nothing like a challenge – mine is the Park Run thing, which does elude me, but it’s my challenge to myself, and I’ll be working on this in the Spring.
- And you know what? All of this exercise lark, which is definitely about keeping you fit and healthy as possible while we age, it is also about having fun. Exercise makes you feel good – why wouldn’t you do it!
And here are a couple of pics of my class and class teacher, Sarah (taken and supplied by her link here) to reassure you that joining a class is great.
My aim in life is to have arms like that into my 80s. Note also the class teacher is adjusting our posture. Never join a class where you just copy the teacher – that’s no good at all.
That’s all for now about exercise.
Btw, YouTube continues to go well but no new videos. My next one will be about putting on a dark eye shadow look for the daytime – end of week, hopefully. A bit like this.
And if you haven’t seen the 4 videos up on YouTube, do click on the YouTube icon and thank you for watching. But note I appreciate you all, whether you watch or not 🙂
With love, Penny, the Frugalfashionshopper