I’ve always had a sneaking suspicion that some people were more “cut out” for exercise than others. At school there were those who loved Physical Education lessons and those who dreaded them.
During hockey practice, my friend and I played in back positions on opposite sides so we could stand and chat – jumping over the ball if it came our way. Why would anyone want to run the risk of being hit with a wooden stick!
How many of you, like me, have been to aerobic classes and found yourself out of sync with everybody else, at least one or two moves behind?
In my defense, over the years, I have tried all types of exercise. Every time I’ve ended up with one joint or another swollen and painful. I jokingly told the world that I was allergic to exercise.
It’s only been in recent years that I have been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease that affects my joints, muscles and tendons.
When I found out, I thought, Great, I don’t need to exercise; it’s not good for me. Then I read an article about a study at Glasgow University that shows that exercise really is better for you if you don’t take to it easily.
It seems it’s all to do with our genes. Science is finding more and more evidence that we can be genetically predisposed to certain diseases. For example, Angelina Jolie had a double mastectomy because she found she had a high risk of developing breast cancer.
It’s also well known that if there is a family history of bowel cancer, eating a healthy fibre full diet can help to prevent it developing. There are countless other examples of this kind of thing, and most of us accept it as a fact that our genes play a big part in our overall health.
If we accept this fact, then it is not so difficult to believe that genetics applies to exercise as well. It seems that some people are born with a genetic predisposition to be fit or strong, and they gain some of the benefits – lower risk of mortality and heart disease – whether they exercise or not. Lucky devils.
This means that the rest of us need to gird our loins and do some sort of exercise, because we are the ones who get most benefit from it. I have taken this news to heart and am embarking on a gradual journey to physical fitness, one tiny step at a time. I have found in the past that if I threw myself into exercise I ended up in pain and then stopped.
I thought hard about which form of exercise would suit me. When I was younger, I was a good swimmer and enjoyed it. However, as I got older, I found the palaver of travelling to the pool, getting wet, smelling of chlorine, etc. wasn’t for me. But now I’m retired so I can come home and have a long relaxing bath.
Consequently, for the past four weeks I’ve been to an aqua aerobics class. I explained my limitations to the instructor and only do what is comfortably within my limits. I’ve met a great set of “old” women, just like me – one of them I used to teach with and we haven’t seen each other for a decade or so. It’s been such fun to catch up.
Already I can feel the benefits – my legs ache less as I climb the stairs and I have more movement in my frozen shoulder. Sometimes I can actually do up my own bra!
Next week I’ll introduce the Sixty and Me Chair Yoga into my regime. I might even start having a little dance around the lounge to some uplifting music. That and walking the dog a few times a week should be just what the doctor ordered!
The key is not to be too hard on your self: only do as much as is comfortable. Don’t give up!
None of us knows for sure what our genetic heritage is, and we can’t easily control our outside environment. We can work on our internal environment. This means a healthy diet and exercise that feels right for you. If we can do this, our bodies can work to their optimum potential.
When I was a young girl an old lady lived next door to my grandma. She hardly ever left the house and lived on fags and Guinness. She lived to 91 – quite a feat in the 1960s! She obviously had a very strong constitution. Have I followed her example? No – not on my life – I don’t have her genes!
How about you? Do you enjoy exercise? What other steps do you take to stay healthy? What motivates you to stay fit? What do you think are the keys to effective exercise after 60? Please share in the comments below.
Tags Fitness Over 60