04/02/2015 8:18 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:24 AM IST

In The Last Of My 50s, Exorcising Exercise Demons

BSIP via Getty Images
Reportage in the Institut Pasteur's sports medicine centre in Lille, France. Sports medicine workshop for the prevention of cardiovascular diseases. Various exercises are recommended to tone the body and get the participants used to physical activity. (Photo by: BSIP/UIG via Getty Images)

Is walking on our streets an option for the elderly? Well, I am not as fit as I should be. I ought to exercise regularly or walk around more than I usually do. This is not easy on our overcrowded streets, especially in the area in which I live. The pavements are cracked by the roots of ancient trees, there is garbage strewn everywhere by scavengers (not by their choice, but as their only option) and surly stray dogs, overfed by an overzealous public trying to earn some good karma, lie in wait to chase passersby. I have been warned that these lanes where I have often walked in the past are now beset by chain-snatchers, mobile-snatchers, who disappear as quickly as they appear, into our teeming masses. I worry about my aging bones and teeth being broken.

No, I do not want my family and friends to feel sorry for my aches and pains, my knees buckling with arthritis, the sudden shooting pain through my fingers, oedema (none of my rings fit anymore)... I am just aging, a natural phenomenon. It's just that I am not cut out for "exercise". A lame excuse for someone who underscores her intellect and practicality.

I have experienced surges of the need to stay fit all through my 30s and 40s. A grim reminder of my inability to sustain this, however, is evident in the last piece of costly home-gym equipment I insisted on buying a decade ago. It eventually remained in a corner of my walk-in closets in residences over various postings - as an expensive but useful duster-cum-umbrella-holder.

I have joined gyms, now and then, valuing the group activity, the friendly atmosphere and general bonhomie. It was rejuvenating for a while, until I let other issues of life take over.

In this New Year, I need to exorcise my lazy demons, if I am to stay fit in my 60s. It is never too late to change one's ways.

Stress is no excuse. It is far too common these days and we should not allow it to become a disease. Wellness is a term being bandied around and it is a positive word, with a nice ring to it. It may even induce a smile. We all know that a smile exercises our facial muscles, though the actual number is still being debated (17 or 26?) and that it takes more muscles to frown! Perhaps I shall begin my exercise regime by smiling more, as I think I am now beginning to feel insecure about aging and being ill and a burden on those around me. Banish such negative thoughts - they only lead to despair, anxiety, restlessness, irritability, sleep disorders, stomach ailments, overeating or not eating well...

As I tentatively step into the senior-citizen category in the New Year, I am aware I must still be wary of sudden movements. Therefore, I will exercise with caution, given my state of health. It is imperative to see the family doctor or go for a routine check-up and diagnostic tests. Then I shall form a daily pattern of exercise... to keep on smiling and walking!

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