Can you then move it for over a mile?
Does that conjure up an image of one of these super fit old agers the media love?
Yes of course, it does. But it shouldn’t.
What do we mean by this word ‘fit”?
We seem to have got ourselves into a nonsensical world with this idea of fitness
It has got itself attached to strange meanings.
Does having a super six pack does mean you are ‘fit’?
Is Andy Murray ‘unfit’ now he can’t play at Wimbledon?
Does being able to run a marathon mean you are ‘fit’?
If you have a new hip and can walk on crutches, are you ‘fit’ to go home?
The word FIT is seriously misused and misunderstood. It has become entangled with body shape, various hobbies and the competitiveness of many sports.
We need to disentangle the idea of fitness. It needs to be much clearer what we mean by it.
At every age we all need to know how you answer the question “Am I fit?” “Is she/he, my partner, my child fit?”
And feel confident about “What do we have to do to be fit?”
The current interest in fitness has produced a cult of personal trainers and media pieces that seem to be aimed at getting everyone into the Olympics or a Circus.
There is absolutely no requirement that to be fit you have to run a marathon, walk 10,000 steps or be able to do 50 press-ups.
Or to tie yourself in knots. Who actuallly needs to be able to do that!
We need to get rid of the nonsense that major gym sessions, super sweaty workouts and extreme sports are essential to normal fitness. They are not. They are hobbies.
The real question is “Fit for What? “
“What level of fitness do I need to live my life well?”
“Am I basically healthy? Am I able to do the things I need to do to survive and live happily for my stage of life?”
And of course
“Am I doing what is necessary to ensure I stay healthy and live on to a great old age”
Plus: “Do I have a reserve of fitness to draw upon if needed? For illness, accident, hobbies, emergencies?”
We are not talking here about, diet, weight, BP, smoking, drugs, alcohol etc. But about the kind of fitness we associate with muscles, joints and movement. And not forgetting that your heart is a muscle!
Strength, stamina, normal flexibility and balance are your core needs. Not handstands! Not marathons.
Back to the beginning:
Fitness at 83. Fit for what?
Basic Physical Needs: be able to get myself upright and to the edge of a bed. Then, lift my 11 stone body to a standing position and be able to move it around safely. Certainly enough to do whatever necessary to keep myself functioning. Toilet, get dressed, find food.
Enjoying Life is an essential need. How you do it is a personal choice. I do not have active hobbies. I dont like sports, nor do I go to the gym. But many older people do. So they need a level of fitness to be able to keep on doing what they wish as long as they can.
I dont need that. My enjoyment in life comes from family and friends, reading, writing, and being curious. Discovering something new and of interest is one of my biggest joys in life. TV and Being able to walk a few miles makes many more things possible. The pleasure of parks and countryside, travel, history, galleries, theatre and cinema are true delights. And being able to dance!
Resilience , Stamina, Future? Well, no doubt 83 is on a downward slope. Muscle strength can disappear rapidly and so does flexibility. Both need constant watching. A constant fight to get them back if you let them slip. Therefore I always try to stay ahead, build up a reserve. Walking 1 mile is essential, so I regularly push myself to 4 or 5. Similarly all I need to lift to get out of a chair is my body weight. But I want a reserve for shopping, suitcase or rucksack and maybe a toddler. So always do that bit more that’s you need now.
Check every joint for normal flexibility every morning. Stretch them all and if they slip bully them kindly but firmly for a day or so until they get back to full range. Especially hips knees and shoulders. Rolling and twisting is great for spines.Simple Yoga is excellent. If you dont know what normal ranges joints should have or how to stretch them see the Physio at your GP practice. NOT a fitness or Yoga fanatic.
Practice balancing and wobbling on one leg. Walk on tip toe around the house. Do Tai Chi type exercises. And dance! Anyhow you like, favourite music, sing along, dance with yourself, skip around. Enjoy.
Strengthen muscles: Make them work against some kind of resistance. Anything! Lifting my body weight up from a chair 30 times twice a day is my regular. Arms crossed. You can do push ups on chair arms too. Use any kind of weight to lift : books, tins of beans..so long as it is hard work and done til you are tired. Lifting small children counts! Those elastic exercise bands are great too. And if you are sitting or lying, just keep flexing muscles against each other. Hard contractions held for a count of 10.
Develop a prompting routine. Balance exercises ever time you put the kettle or microwave on, whilst it heats. Strengthening and stretching whenever the TV ads come on.
Always an active spell every day. Get a bit out if breath. Give your heart and lungs a work out. Walk fast, swim fast, cycle, dance with energy or make love… Play is wonderful exercise, balls are great. Grandchildren, dogs, throw, catch, bend, fun in fresh air or those old wall games we played. Ideal. And of course gardening, housework,……