Let’s get something clear right from the start – I hate exercise, it’s way to akin to sport for my liking! No, I will never be known as a gym junkie, you won’t see me sporting lycra and jogging down the road, and I am living proof that you can forget how to ride a bike.
Once upon a time my dad tried to teach me how to play tennis. It was a comedy of errors and eventually he conceded defeat when his uncoordinated daughter ducked, shrieked, and jumped away from the ball more often than she managed to hit it.
Another time I was peer pressured into fielding for a cricket game – I went home that day with a swollen cheek and black eye. Nope, I didn’t get into a fight with anyone, but it turns out it’s best to catch the ball with your hands instead of your face. Who knew?
I could go on, but I think my point is probably clear by now – physical activity that requires coordination is not my strength.
Imagine my horror when part of my mental health recovery plan included getting active. It was horror that only increased when my pain management specialist and physio both suggested the same thing. Ugh! Active? Not even the promise that exercise would help my mental and physical pain filled me with joy and anticipation.
I recall hopefully asking something along the lines of “Would marching on the spot while I watch cooking shows on TV for 20 minutes a day be suitable?”, but that was met with raised eyebrows and rolled eyes from all 3 of these otherwise nice people. I wasn’t going to get out of it that easily.
Emphatically they assured me that exercise releases good chemicals into your bloodstream that help raise mood and even lower our sensitivity to pain. I was not convinced but then I remembered that Elle Woods, Lawyer (Legally Blonde) said “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands, they just don’t.” and I thought that maybe, just maybe, I could trust her – after all, if you can’t trust what you see in movies, what can you trust?
It turns out though that you can do a few things to make your doctor’s happy, and keep true to your own “No gym, no sport” personal policy!
I move with all the grace of a drunk, three legged elephant on roller skates, but dancing is a fun way to get your body moving and heart pumping. Plus if you catch sight of your reflection in anything, you’re sure to laugh out loud from the horror of it all.
The main plus point is that there are no memberships, clubs, or instructors needed! Crank up your favorite songs, close your eyes and “rock your body” (Sorry, not sorry. I loved the BSB’s). It’s also fun to grab your other half and make them waltz around with you, the more uncomfortable they are with it, the more amusement value – they promised to support your recovery didn’t they? Yes indeed!
Can anyone remember those stretchy Gumby toys from the 90’s? Or Twister? Or those jellylike, stretchy, sticky plastic hands? Well Yoga is kind of like that, sometimes it’s fun, other times you’ve turned yourself into a human pretzel and are unsure if you’ll ever get out.
While there are plenty of gyms that offer specialised classes, you don’t have to go if you don’t want to! Personally I’d sooner slam my finger in a door than bend and stretch in tights where anyone could see me! Thankfully there are tons of aps that take you through guided courses, many of them free, in the sanctuary of your own home.
On a side note, did you know that Naked Yoga is a thing? I will leave you to ponder that…You are welcome!
The simple serenity of a brisk morning stroll, peaceful, set your own pace. Well it is serene until your nose and eyes start to stream from the chill of zero degree air, and you heart and lungs are screaming “What did we do wrong, why do you hate us?”, then distracted by the copious amounts of bodily fluids cascading from your face you trip over your own feet and are reminded of the effects of gravity and gravel rash. Maybe that’s just me?
However, it is free. If you are the loving owner of a dog fur child it will love you even more, and it’s low impact for those of us who suffer from chronic pain or heavy fatigue. Of course that stinging breeze also helps to help you “feel alive”!
In all seriousness though, exercise doesn’t have to be some high energy planned out and expensive venture into the world of activewear and six pack bods. And as much as I hate to admit it, being active does help both our mental and physical health.
You don’t have to join a team, pay membership fees, or even see another soul if like me you are a flat broke introvert, with social anxiety and body issues! Also, should you take up dancing or yoga and feel uncomfortable laughing at yourself, feel free to send me videos of it, and I’ll laugh for you!