Joining a gym at 75: a weighty move

More strength to your elbow, madam!

More strength to your elbow, madam!

Finally I did it: joined a gym. I've done it twice before, lasting a couple of years each time. But this time, I'm serious.

For years, neuroscientists have been discovering and proving and publishing a single message loud and clear: exercise is pure gold, a panacea, catholicon, philosopher's stone and holy grail all rolled into one. If you care about maintaining a healthy brain into old age and if you follow health and lifestyle news even casually, you know this already.

No need to wait for dementia: how to be daft right now

So we all know, at some level, that to sit around all day is just plain crazy. That's an interesting choice: to knowingly live in a way that makes you more likely to go daft in the future.

What's good for your heart is good for your brain. Exercise is the starting point for geriatric sanity. Better body, better brain. Not surprising, when the brain is part of the body and needs a truckload of blood and oxygen to function well.

Easy for me to say, when my joints and limbs are still mobile. But I've made a vow to move whatever part of my body I can move until the day I die. I am growing the habit of taking my body seriously. It's been good to me, and I must return the compliment.

A top-of-list life change

Some life changes are exponentially powerful compared with others. They send off ripples that affect the rest of your life.

Regular exercise is one of these. It lifts your spirits, counteracts depression, gets more blood to your brain, helps you think more clearly, and somehow helps get rid of physical niggles. It may also raise your levels of confidence and optimism. It often has a social component which is good for us too. Exercise even starts some people eating healthier.

I knew all this. (So do you!)

The missing link

Before the boot camp self-inquisition, my exercise regime had a few fixed pegs (tai chi every morning and dance rehearsals every Wednesday evening) and a few depends-on-the-weather items (random swims, random walks on Mt Victoria). Also, I walk around town doing my chores: big deal.

The more I read about exercise for the elderly, the more I could see that two things were missing in my life: a weekly schedule and strength building.

My sergeant major yelled at me about this every hour on the hour.

And yet, and yet ... I postponed acting on this knowledge for six months. Back in January of my boot camp year, I already knew I must review my exercise habits. I procrastinated by focusing on less important changes. I procrastinated by reading scientific studies and books. I procrastinated by budgeting. I procrastinated by investigating every gym in town, looking up bus timetables, drawing up schedules that might work.

Finally I took myself by surprise. I attended a trial Power class at a gym close to me, called the Exodus. (Exodus from where, I wonder—Slobvania?) I joined the gym straight after trying the class. Since then I've attended two Power classes every week and I feel very happy about the change.

My new schedule includes a good dose of exercise every day from Monday to Friday. I'm happy about this too.

But hey, in the weekends I will just slop around as usual. Like now, for instance, I'm just a dear old granny typing to myself in a rocking chair.

Little 1 kg weights are cuter than Angela's load, and they still work.

Little 1 kg weights are cuter than Angela's load, and they still work.

Drawing from Hand-book of calisthenics and gymnastics : a complete drill-book for schools, families, and gymnasiums : with music to accompany the exercises (1864) Watson, J. Madison. Public domain.

Photo: Rachel McAlpine, CC BY 3.0