EXERCISE 101

It’s in all the papers this week. Everywhere I turn, there is another fitness pundit setting out guidelines for people my age. It all sounds good on paper, but let me be the little voice of sanity in the wilderness of all the metabolism and cardio Nazis out there. Fitness is imperative for seniors, but I bet that those who are slinging advice to the over fifty five set are all IN THEIR TWENTIES.

I have been a real devotee of exercise all my life. I played racquetball, I hiked around with my dog. I have been a gym rat, a spinner, and I have personally worn out two treadmills. I am that old lady in the back of the yoga class, the one who can barely stifle my groans during the “downward dog.” I feel that I have earned my stripes, and thus am very qualified to respond to all the scientists, personal trainers, and Richard Simmons wannabes out there who are now recommending that women over 55 should exercise strenuously for at least ONE HOUR per day:

MY DOCTOR SAYS THAT I GET TOO MUCH EXERCISE. It all started with that little spare tire around my middle. T-shirts didn’t look that flattering any more. “Sucking it in,” which was always no big deal, became an exercise in futility. So, one fine day, I decided that I needed to beef up my exercise regimen. I joined a gym, and found the dizzying array of exercise classes to be so tempting! I joined an “ABSOLUTE ABS” class. That one required two sizes of exercise ball. I did fine with the small one, but fell off the big one so many times that I sustained serious rug burns on my knees and elbows.

Spinning was an appealing class. On the flyer, it promised a total calorie burn of 800+ in an hour. To me, that spelled hot fudge sundae, and so I enrolled. I did fine for the first ten minutes, but then the instructor forced us to crank up the resistance on our bikes, and the fun turned into agony. I persevered, however! No way was I going to give up—damn those torpedos, I spun at full speed ahead!

As a result, I have become addicted to exercise. I am not bragging, oh, no! Because, you see, my devotion to the gym has necessitated my building a close relationship with a chiropractor, a physical therapist, a massage therapist, and a heating pad. I have a stiff neck that just won’t quit. After spinning, my back seizes up. Yoga, which is great for balance and inner peace, caused me to pull a groin muscle. I fall off my MBT’s frequently.

And now, the pundits are telling me that I AM NOT DOING ENOUGH. I have to increase my biking! When walking, if I can still talk, I am not going fast enough! And I have to go for the burn seven days a week! This is just, according to those experts, enough to keep me looking as thin and fit as I did ten years ago. If I want to look REALLY good, like the real housewives in those towns, I have to do even more!

So I had this discussion with my doctor, article from the newspaper in hand. He looked at me, sighed, and as he wrote out yet another prescription for physical therapy for my knee, neck and that niggling pain in my wrists, he said this: “If your personal trainer jumped off a bridge, would you do it, too?”

This got me thinking. I don’t eat animals, much. The only things with faces that grace our table are birds. We stoke enough fiber in our engines to do justice to a decent sized septic field. We have been organic since before it was in style. We take supplements and drink fucoidan. We floss, we exfoliate, and we meditate. What on earth are we thinking?

How many centenarians do YOU know who are having fun? Do any of them have friends their own age?

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