Exercising to stay healthy
Some people assume if you’ve chosen to go grey, you’ve given up caring about your appearance and your body. In my case, that’s simply not the truth. I’d love to live a long and healthy life, and that’s not going to happen if I don’t look after my body.
I’ve always loved to exercise, in one format or another, and that’s not going to change any time soon.
Why do I exercise? In truth, there are lots of reasons, but my main motivator is loving the types of exercise I do. They make me feel good and I enjoy them. I also know exercising is good for my health, both now and later. It helps my posture, bone density and general health.
I have osteoarthritis in my right foot, so it’s important for me to keep the joint moving, to reduce the pain and discourage further deterioration. There is a limit to how much I can do, before making it worse, so I no longer do high impact sports like badminton, and I avoid running on steep gradients.
These days my main forms of exercise are walking, running and yoga.
Yoga: I first started doing yoga ten years ago, to increase my flexibility and help me avoid injuries. I’d got to the point where badminton made my calves and Achilles tendon so sore, that I would hobble around the house for the first half hour the day after I’d played.
There are lots of types of yoga, and Iyengar Yoga is the one that works best for me. It primarily focusses on strength and alignment, which is great for improving your posture and maintaining muscle mass. There are plenty of balancing poses too, which is another area we need to focus on more as we get older.
If I feel like doing something a little more dynamic, I use the Asana Rebel app, which has workouts based on yoga poses. My favourite is the Energy Booster routine, it only takes 23 minutes. Great for days when I have a busy schedule.
I usually try to do some form of yoga 5 times a week.
Running: I’ve run on and off since my late teens, when competed for the county cross-country team. These days, I rarely run in races, because I prefer to run alone, and at a more leisurely pace.
It’s always hard to start running again when I’ve been ill or injured, but I know if I persist, I’ll reach the point where it becomes like a form of mediation for me. At that stage I can honestly say I love to run.
I can’t run as often as I used too, because I have to protect my foot. But you’ll usually find me out running a couple of times each week.
Walking: On the days that I don’t run, I go out for a walk. I live in a really pretty part of the country and love being out in nature. Walking is a wonderful way to let my mind unwind, while my body exercises. And I do get plenty of exercise, because it’s very hilly here.
One of my favourite walks takes me down to the Tyne, where the sound of the river is a great stress buster. If I’m not there, I’m high up in the fells, where I can see for miles. Or in the woods, with the fresh smell of trees, watching the squirrels.
I love the way my mind free-wheels while I’m out walking, helping me get creative and see alternative perspectives on things I’ve been puzzling over. I’ll often come back with new ideas, or knowing just how the phrase something I’d struggled with for hours.
Exercise works for me, because it makes me happy: I know lots of people struggle to exercise, but I guess that’s often because they haven’t found a type that makes their soul sing.
If that’s you, keep looking, you’ll be so glad when you finally find it.
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