Every morning I run round the block. Then I kick it back under the bed.
If you haven’t bothered for years, the very word exercise conjures up flushed faces, aching muscles and abruptly feeling very old and tottery indeed. Of course if you’re already doing tons of exercise, you should go find another blog to read, because this one is not for you. This is a blog for those who are a little annoyed to find they can’t run for the train anymore without getting spots dancing in front of their eyes. Or touch their toes, although frankly if that was so important they would be on our knees. Or fancy the first warning twinges of stiffness.
It isn’t too late to loosen up, because it is NEVER too late to improve your general condition.
Don’t get me wrong. There’s no exercise regime in this sad and sorry world that will turn the clock back and make you twenty again, but without torturing yourself you can add some pretty simple routines to your day and you will notice the difference, and you will want to thank me. Instead just buy one of my novels, which are about people our age and quite funny, and will exercise your brain as you solve the murder, and we’ll both be happy, because they are very nice to read with your next cup of tea.)
This is a long road, and you can head along it at your own pace, but you will feel a difference from the beginning.
While you’re waiting for your morning bath to fill up, or the shower to get warm, do some gentle warm-up exercises. Do not push yourself on any of these: no pain no gain is a crock, when you are starting again after a long break! However, push yourself a little further every day as your muscles loosen.
I swing one arm, then the other, in big circles, forward, then backward. Seven times works for me, for all of these, so I recommend it. Five, ten, whatever works for you.
Who remembers ‘I must I must increase my bust’? Elbows back, elbows back: elbows back, straighten the arms. Elbows back, straighten the arms. ‘The more the better to fill my sweater’? I still don’t fill my sweater, despite years of doing this, but I don’t tuck my boobs into my waistband either. More to the point, it opens your chest, loosens your ribcage, and pleases your lungs very much.
Hands on hips, gentle twist one way, then the other, seven times. Keep an eye on the bath. You don’t want it overflowing.
Lunge gently, keeping your knee directly over your foot, seven times. Repeat to the other side. I pull hideous faces at the same time to work my facial muscles. The wind hasn’t changed yet.
If your bath is a slow filler, you have time to trot on the spot a bit. Not exactly onerous, but your lungs are suddenly full of air and all your muscles have woken up.
One thing I learned about twenty years back – even if you are bedridden, temporarily or otherwise, if you think the above exercises, your brain sends the same messages and the muscles tauten and loosen. Not, obviously, as much – but there is a health-improving reaction.
Okay, now you’re in the bath (or shower). Roll your head gently. It not only keeps your neck supple, it stops it thickening.
Look over each shoulder.
Rotate your hands clockwise, then anticlockwise. Make a fist, open, close, repeat. Now play an imaginary piano with your fingers.
While towelling off, clench your buttocks, tuck your pelvic area up, release. And, of course, repeat.
Today, tomorrow, and for the rest of your life, remind yourself that there are two things you will never automatically say again. ‘I can’t’ – and ‘I’m too old’. You probably can, and you probably aren’t.
There’ll be lots more, but that’s for starters. And yes, you, the puzzled-looking reader with the bulging rippling muscles, I told you to go read another blog. We’ll catch up with you.