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- Diane

Why exercising is about more than just being fit for Geraldine

Why exercising is about more than just being fit for Geraldine


We all know it’s important to be as fit as we can. And we also know that all too often that can be a lot easier said than done. It was almost pathetically heartening for me to hear Geraldine, who’s in her early sixties, articulate so many of the challenges that I have when it comes to exercise, and the reasons not to do it. Although I can’t say I’ve shared one or two of her experiences (I’ll just say stalking and burning and leave it to you to discover what I mean!)

“I never did sport or exercise at school or university, and after each of my children I found it increasingly hard to get back in shape, so after the fourth I did get a personal trainer. Then a few years after that, I tore the AC ligament in my knee and had to have physio, which I did with an ex-Marine. I think he thought I was an ex-Marine too, rather than a middle-aged mother of four, so the sessions, which also involved quite a lot of exercise, were pretty punishing. I don’t know if I never really got properly fit or what, but he never actually discharged me. So I kept on going.

That went on for quite a long time until eventually, in an effort to get rid of me, he gave up physiotherapy and became a finance director instead! That was about this time last year, so then I joined my local gym, but a week ago that burned to the ground. There’s definitely something about me and exercise!

I find it really difficult to prioritise exercise, to make a reason to go

The challenge for me is that I find it really difficult to prioritise exercise. To make a reason to go if somebody’s not actually physically waiting for me. When I stopped the physio sessions, I dropped down from exercising twice a week to once a week or even every ten days. 

I don’t like doing exercise in the morning because that’s when I’m at my best work-wise and as I’m freelance it seems a terrible waste of productive work time. But I run out of steam in the early afternoon, so ideally I need to work through until 2 o’clock and then do exercise. Whereas what I tend to do, is work through until 2 and then feel too exhausted to be bothered. Or else I’m thinking about what I’m going to make for supper and life crowds in somehow.

The main reason I do exercise is that it makes me feel better. I like to be the sort of person who looks at an escalator and thinks ‘oh yes, I can walk up rather than have to stand and be carried.’ But it doesn’t get any easier. I have an ankle injury from falling off a pair of shoes when I was in my late 20s which I never got sorted out properly and as a result I have arthritis in that ankle. I also have a lot of wear and tear in the knee that the ligament was injured in. So I’m seeing doctors for both those things. Oh, and I have to wear orthotics in my shoes. So I’m a bit of an old crock really. 

I do recognise that exercise makes an enormous difference to my mental health

I do recognise that being fitter helps me in all sorts of ways. It helps with sleeping and it makes an enormous difference to my mental health. I hate doing it but I feel much better after have. Also, I really like clothes, and I like being able to wear the sort of clothes that I want to. I never had a waist anyway, but I enjoy being able to wear jeans and t-shirts and feel I don’t look like a pudding.

I’ve just started a new fitness regime which involves 45 minute intense exercise sessions. I asked the guy who’s running it how often I needed to do them, thinking he’d say once or twice a week, and he said “the really serious people come six times a week”! 

I did the first session yesterday and I was at least 25 years older than everybody else in the room. It was really punishing. I had to go home and have a hot bath afterwards. And today I can hardly walk! But I was proud of myself.

Am I going to go six times a week? Of course not, what a ridiculous notion! But I will really try my best to keep it up.”

What exercise do you do? Would you recommend it? if so, why? Do you share my and Geraldine’s experience of finding it a challenge to be motivated to exercise? Any tricks or tips for combating that? I’d love to hear them!

Other posts you’ll enjoy

Finding a new routine for a new life

The Heydayer who started running marathons in her sixties

Why Heydayer Lousie will never stop challenging herself

Meet Dilys, the world's oldest female skydiver

Meet Dilys, the world's oldest female skydiver

Malcolm and I discuss ageing and potential

Malcolm and I discuss ageing and potential