As we age, we may think to ourselves that we don’t need to exercise as much. We may no longer play competitive sport, we don’t do so much heavy work, our partners still love us no matter what, so we don’t need to do it for them… but what is the purpose of exercise? Is it about being firm and strong and attractive or is it about being fit for life?
We walk around every day in this one body, which has to last us for the whole of this life, and this body has to go everywhere we go, and do everything we ask it to do. Now, this may seem obvious, but we have to keep it fit if we want it to do what we want for the rest of our lives!
Fitness does not have to be a chore. It is about being fit for purpose… being able to do what you want to do, when you want to do it. This is different for each and every one of us, which is why there is no one-size-fits-all exercise programme.
I know that for myself, my fitness needs, and therefore my exercise programme, have changed as I have aged. I no longer want to climb down the Grand Canyon and back up to the top in a day, or walk in nature for hours, or any other form of endurance activity. So I no longer need to train to be as fit as a professional athlete.
But I do still work, and work hard, and my work has specific requirements for me to have endurance and strength, so I exercise in a way that supports my body to do what I want to do, day in and day out.
I have found as I age that my exercise has become more gentle, and more about connecting with and moving with my body, with deep appreciation for the way it still is so fit and strong and lovely, despite what I put it through in its earlier years!
I walk every day for at least 30 minutes, and swim a couple of times a week. And I like to stretch and lift light weights, when I find the time. And I live life, which means pushing and pulling heavy machines around at work, carrying the shopping, carrying wet washing out to the line, making beds, going up and down stairs, getting out in the garden, playing with grandchildren, dancing, and all the other things we do in a day that work our bodies.
The main thing about exercise for me now is that I do it to connect with and support my body. The particular details of what I do that day are secondary to that purpose. And whatever I do, I do it with the deepest appreciation of my body and how moving it in a tender loving way actually energises me, rather than leaving me feeling tired. In fact, when I do feel tired during the day, the best thing to do is go for a short walk in nature, which brings me back and lifts me up in a flash!
I love to move my body now, and the more I age, the more I appreciate my body and all that it teaches me about the way I have been living and the way I am living now, for our bodies are the markers of truth in our lives. I love the feeling of connection with my body and of being with my body, being consciously present with it – my mind focussed on what my body is doing, as I am doing it – in everything I do.
This is the true purpose of exercise – to move our bodies in a loving, connected way that makes us fit to joyfully live our lives, each and every day.