Sunday, May 29, 2011

Couch croissant

I am the least sportive person on the planet. I spent my secondary schooldays working out creative excuses for getting out of physed (the teacher did notice if you "had your period" every two weeks) and I managed to completely avoid all non-compulsory team sports (though I did have to take part in the traditional lower sixth team marching display). Why go rushing around a muddy field when you could be reading instead?
          I can at least speak cricket - I find that saying "I see the middle order's collapsed again" is almost always relevant for the NZ team - but not rugby. When Harvey was watching, I used to wander in and ask which teams were playing and what the score was, but as he started talking about loose forwards or getting offside, I would say "you're losing me" and wander off again. (He played as a child, but broke his collarbone, twice, and got told he was a wuss for going off the field. "How old were you?" I asked. "Six.")
          I know exercise is good for you, especially as you get older, and when we lived in Northland and Harvey was well, we used to go for pretty regular walks. At the age I am now, he had a very demanding full-time job, but in fine weather he usually walked down to work on the Terrace as well. Of course he gardened, and when he retired he went to his club's gym, and liked it.
          I have never set foot in a gym. For several years, in both Northland and Karori, I went to a nice local exercise class for over-50s, but as Harvey became more frail his morning routine made getting there on time more difficult, and it was all too easy for me to give up. I know I'm not fit, I thought, but I'm actually really healthy, so too bad.
           But then I heard Kim Hill interviewing Barbara Strauch about her book, Secrets of the Grown-up Brain, and Strauch came up with the first compelling reason I've come across for making myself get more exercise. She said you need it to keep your brain working well, because the brain needs oxygen. Obvious, really, but I just hadn't heard it put so clearly before.
           So now what do I do? Unless I'm on holiday with the strong inducement of seeing new things, I seem to have been born without whatever gene it is that drives people to Get Moving, or whatever the latest health-promoting slogan is. Walking on my own, unless there's a point, like having a coffee or visiting a friend, feels boring and futile. I have the Strong Women Stay Young book, and the basic equipment, but every attempt to stick to the undemanding 30-minutes-twice-a-week routine has failed. Friends have offered to take me to Scottish Country Dancing, and it's true that dancing is the only kind of exercise I've ever liked, but my inherited funny feet have now introduced me to the wonderful world of orthotics and the clumpy shoes that go with them, so I don't think that will be a goer.
             If you're like me and have found something that works for you, please let me know. Meanwhile it's a lovely day, so later I'm going to park far enough away from my afternoon appointment to get in at least a short walk, with the inducement of tea and cake to come.


  1. I have a rebounder. It potentises all exercise, so 10 minutes on the rebounder equates to something like 30 minutes walking. It's actually quite energising, can be done while listening to the radio, and wakes up my brain after I've been sitting at the computer.
    There are some good books that give a series of movements to do while bouncing, just to keep it interesting.
    Evidently it gets the lymph moving and all sorts of other beneficial things. Worth checking out, but take it very gently at first.

  2. I find exercising very dreary. I do enjoy walking, but I need to get up early so that I can go for a walk while my partner is at home with the children. It's not so easy to do in winter (too dark!), and he travels a lot, so I often miss my walk, and then get slack and don't go at all.

    Riding a bike to and from university has worked well for me. I was very fit way back in 1997, when I was riding a bike around Canberra, and fit again in 2003/04, riding in Palmerston North. I've just started to get a little fitter again now that we are back here in Palmie, and I can ride a bike again.

    I think bike riding works for me because it is part of the structure of my work day, not something extra I have to squeeze in.

  3. Tango! The only workout you can do in high-heels.
    I used to go regularly to a floor Pilates class, that had elements of yoga and even tai chi. It was run in a church hall, low-key and fun. And I'm thinking of going again. Could tell you all about it, if you're interested, Anne.

  4. It's so difficult isn't it. I've learnt to enjoy going jogging, (especially while listening to a podcast) and I also do some mountain biking too, which is really fun, but the impulse to stay inside and sit on the couch is strong! I think the key is to find something you enjoy. you could try a variety of classes to see if you find something you enjoy - yoga, pilates, zumba?! and going with a friend is a good idea. what about a gentle kayak on the waterfront when the sun is out?
    also, i find being present to my body, feeling it's effort and tension, even when uncomfortable, can make the experience more meaningful.
    Good luck, and let us know how you get on!

  5. Hmmm Tai chi, yoga, pilates, aqua jogging,..but some people find those electronic game type gadgets that plug into the television set really useful. Wii and X box Kinect are two brands I know of and there could well be others.
    There is an ad on TV currently showing a woman with three wee kids using it at home, as she snatches 10 mins to herself and also a woman who has had a lung transplant and who needs to build up her fitness very gradually.

    I'm a member of the orthotics and very sensible shoe club too:-)
    I hope you find something that suits you and your needs.

  6. I go to a Never Too Old programme three mornings a week at the YMCA in Auckland which is marvellous - group and individual exercise over an hour. They offer tai chi the other two mornings. Then there is the social side of things like going on to a cafe afterwards. Maybe there is something like that in Wellington. Good luck!

  7. Circle dancing also came to mind but I have no idea how energetic that is or how nimble footed one has to be.