Exercise and getting older

I was never a sporty kid. I looked as if I should have been sporty but I wasn't.   I didn't like games and had no ball skills to speak of.  I hated hockey and the clattering clash of sticks that made your teeth shake.  I was never last to be chosen for netball because there was the heavy fat girl and the girl who could hardly see.  I could run and I could see so I was generally the third last to be chosen.  My problem was that I really was not interested so could be relied upon to be looking the other way when the ball was passed to me or not to be in the right place when I should have been helping someone to take a shot at goal.  I spent my tennis lessons sunbathing and reading by the court.  I could swim but not really well.  I could run but not very quickly.  As a teenager I read and dreamed and lived in my head.

So it is something of a surprise to find that now I am in my sixties I do really quite a lot of exercise.  For the last two or more years, since doing the Couch to 5k running programme, I run two or three times a week.  I generally go to yoga and Pilates once a week.  I walk a lot and I have recently taken to doing some handweights at home a couple of times a week.  

So what changed?  I think firstly I realised that while I don't want to play sport I do like movement, not competitively, not in a team, but the pleasure of using your body crept up on me starting when I was in my thirties and has been with me ever since.  More recently I discovered that I like the sense of physical competence that comes with being able to run, to hold a yoga pose or to lift a weight.  But more than anything I think coming to exercise later in life is to do with an increasing sense of how short a time we have here.

Slightly to my surprise I have got older!  How did that happen?  I am retired.  We have loads of grandchildren.  For the first time in my life I am not whizzing around keeping all the plates spinning, doing my job, looking after children, falling into bed exhausted with my head full of things needing to be done, constantly running a massive to do list.  I have time to take a leisurely breakfast with a cup of good coffee and the newspaper.  I have time to walk after dinner just because it is a beautiful evening.  I have time to read in the sun.  I have time in a way I have never had before.  And yet if I lift my head from the day to day and take the longer view,  I don't have time.   Astonishingly I am sixty six.  How many more years do I have for travel and adventure?  Ten?  Fifteen?  I have no idea.  Time no longer stretches out in front of me rolling away towards the distant mountains of old age.  I have ended up in the foothills while I was too busy on the journey to notice.

Philip Larkin said that "Days are where we live".  That is true.  It is also true that bodies are where we live.  If I want to do all the many things I now have time for I need energy, strength, stamina, balance and those things can no longer be taken for granted as they could when I was the girl who dreamed by the tennis court.  I need to keep my body moving in order for it to be able to move.  I need to be grateful to if for having brought me so far along life's journey and look after it.  So for the last seven years or more that is what I do.

Perhaps this sense of having all the time in the world and no time at all has been accentuated by the pandemic and the quiet days at home and an increasing wish to see the world again.  When the world opens up again I hope I'll be ready.  There is still time for some more adventures!



Comments

  1. I share your surprise at having got old. I am a year ahead of you and see 70 beckoning. Like you I was uninterested in organised sports although skinny and quick. I took up trampolining at college and damaged my back and I had a spell of aerobics in the eighties but that’s about it. I have always admired your running efforts but a knee will not permit it. I do Pilates once a week and walk and garden but I think I will add in weights and try to curb my addiction to peanut butter cup ice cream. I will continue to look here for encouragement!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Peanut butter cup ice cream! That sounds like something special. I have found doing some weights really quite interesting. There is a real satisfaction in seeing yourself improve and I can definitely notice some additional strength in my everyday life. I would recommend it!

      Delete
  2. 69 here and still a LOT of walks I want to do here around our new home. I'd love to travel abroad but can't see that happening now husband is poorly, so will just have to enjoy the UK.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. One of the great things about moving, whether locally or further afield, is the pleasure in getting out and learning about your new patch. When we move into our new house it will only be five or six miles away and yet the walks are strikingly different. Enjoy learning your new square mile!

      Delete
  3. What is it they say - use it or lose it! But I think you also touch on an importnat issue about sport in schools, which was invariably competitive in 'our' day. What really matter sis surely a love of exercise and good health - and that can come from walking or climbing or any number of outdoor (and indeed indoor) activities. It is good to see this changing with the younger generation, but there is still a significant (over) emphasis on competition and many former non-competitive activities have adopted to the commercial demands of competition - climbing and skateboarding being topical Olympic examples.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Totally agree. School sport was competitive and generally team sport too. I remember first appreciating how much I enjoyed hill walking when I was in my late twenties and thinking that it was a better fit for me than anything at all my school had offered - no competition, not a group activity. I have a grandson now who is a talented rugby player and the team competitive thing works for him perfectly. I have another who likes the climbing wall. I wish there had been more of "each to their own" when I was at school and I might not have just switched off from it!

      Delete
  4. I was ALWAYS last to be picked for any school sports, have always enjoyed walking though and used to go for 5 - 10 mile walks with my father as a child. Still enjoy walking which is my main activity. At 77 I feel I need to "use it or lose it". I am constantly surprised that I am this great age.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I totally agree with "use it or lose it"! And I'm glad I'm not the only one surprised to find myself having got older. For such a long time life seemed to stretch on for ever!

      Delete
  5. This reflects a conversation my partner and I had the other day. The obsession with competitive sports at school when there are so many other ways of moving and enjoying movement meant and means so many people switching off from the idea of exercise. Like many here I love to walk which requires nothing more than leaving the house. Cycling, or rather, pootering along on my bike, stopping to look at a view or bird, Pilates using one of the many excellent online classes.

    And the options of stuff to do are so much greater than they were when I was young. Are the schools catching up with that idea?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I completely agree. Competitive sport is fun for those who excel at it but there are loads of children who would live to be active in different ways. I'm not sure schools are catching up. They seem to me to be keen to lose the competition element without bringing in some interesting alternatives!

      Delete
  6. So beautifully written Elizabeth and you capture life's journey beautifully. I too hated sport at school but love my running and yoga now x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Exactly. I can't imagine my life without running and yoga now while many friends who used to be sporty seem to have just stopped. The great thing a lot of people do is walk which is one of the easiest and best things to do for your health. I wish everyone could be persuaded!

      Delete
  7. I came to that realization: "... Time no longer stretches out in front of me rolling away towards the distant mountains of old age..." awhile back. Suddenly (it seemed) some dreams I had carried around all my life--a months-long sabbatical in Europe, a cottage on the coast--could no longer be a matter of "some day" because "some day" was now...or never. It's a hard thing to look at your dreams and start chucking the ones you know are never going to happen.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I do see what the mean and agree it can be hard. The reverse side of the club is that it can make you really focus on one or two to make happen and finally get on with it! I hope you can realise some of yours!!

      Delete
    2. Whoops, side of the coin, is what I meant!

      Delete

Post a Comment

Comments are the best thing and the conversations they produce are the whole purpose of blogging for me. Do tell me what you think!

Popular posts from this blog

Making lined curtains

Moving house in the time of Covid!

2020 - that sounds as if it should be an auspicious year!