Monthly Archives: October 2016

Exercise: now comes the hard part

My physio finished at the end of October.  I must confess that when I started I was quite cynical about the value of the program. But the care with which Christian, my physiotherapist, went about his job made me a believer. Like anyone recovering from an injury, I wanted to rush right into the exercise program with a vengeance to get back my former flexibility and strength. Christian taught me to slow down; not to look for miraculous progress; and to take the exercise gently, resting for brief periods between activities.

Exercise was anathema to me

In fact, I had never liked exercise of any kind. I regard all those people who go for strenuous exercise three times a week or more–as nuts! As far as I can see, the exercise never kept them from getting ill, or having heart attacks, or generally not having better health for their efforts than I had. I believe I am partly right. The reason those strenuous exercisers never seemed to improve is because the mental attitude of the individuals never changed. They never learned to slow down, take their exercise easier, gain a mental balance that went beyond exercise to influence how they lived.

The physiotherapy I was required to do over five-weeks was quite different. It proceeded at a modest pace, with breaks in between exercises. My therapist urged me to try to become conscious of my body and its needs, and not to push beyond my obvious limits. We would achieve one goal. Then we would push the boundaries and try again. Over five weeks he taught me to pace myself, but always to advance my goals.

It worked. I could feel myself getting stronger. I gained more confidence that I could get back to my former level of flexibility. And then I had to go out and try to maintain or exceed my limits on my own.

I was given a couple of sheets of exercises I could do at home, twice a day, and encouraged to walk at least 100 meters three times a day. It is proving harder than I thought.

Take it slowly

Christian suggested I might want to join a gym–and gave me a good recommendation But I am not one for gym activity. So I determined to try to maintain an exercise balance on my own. After some fumbling starts, and following some recommendations from my daughter, I decided to become a mall walker. But there was no way I was going to join a group at a given place at a given time, and race around a mall like a maniac. I did what Christian recommended.

I started slowly. There is a very good mall near my home which I have to visit from time to time anyway for prescriptions, food, and the like. Every time I go to the mall for whatever reason, I try to reach my 100-meter-three-times-a-day goal. I haven’t quite made it yet, but I am getting close. And the mall is an ideal place to walk. At about the half-way mark there is a food court. I  walk till I hit the court, sit down and take a short break, then walk the rest of the way. Coming back–the same thing.

There is also a huge gym in the mall filled with exercise machines. I see people in there every day walking like mad on treadmills, or stretching themselves into unbelievable poses on exercise machines that look as if they were born in a medieval torture chamber. “Just $4.99 for two weeks”, screams the banner hung outside the gym. How about nothing forever? That’s what I aspire to.

Digital programs helped

I have, however, succumbed to digital temptation and acquired two new apps on my cell phone.

The first is called “Me”. It tracks my daily steps, tells me how far I’ve gone, how many “active” minutes I have worked, and how many calories I’ve burned. I’m not sure I want to know all that, but it does give me some sort of check on where I’m headed. Most useful.

The second is a “Sleep” program. It tracks from the time I go to bed to the time I wake up. It tells me how much of that time is “wakeful”, how much is light sleep, and how much is deep sleep.

For some time I have been having trouble sleeping, but tracking my sleep time seems to have overcome that. The program also told me why I was having trouble getting to sleep in the first place. My room was too bright.

When we renovated our home, we installed LED perimeter lights as a security measure. They work fine, but they also produce an afterglow that reflects in my window. The simple act of drawing an opaque curtain over just half the window at night has managed to cure my sleeplessness. My late wife used to be a fanatic about sleeping in a dark room. I was always a sceptic, but I believe she was right.

I’ll boast when I’m done

So, at the beginning of November, I am on track with my exercise program, and working to hit my 300 meters a day–or close to 6000 steps–my timer assures me. You will be relieved that I plan to tell you no more about my exercises until I meet those goals!