The following is an illustration as to how I came to realise that maintaining my fitness is important as I grow older, both in terms of wellbeing and in terms of being there for my grandchildren.
When we were all a bit younger, accompanying primary school trips was an effort but nevertheless I attended and generally enjoyed them. College has seen less of these (thank goodness) but the other day my granddaughter phoned from school asking if I could attend one – as out of 28 girls, only one parent had offered to supervise. This particular day my Grandparents Raising Grandchildren meeting was scheduled, so I said I was otherwise engaged. With that she promptly put her teacher on the telephone who informed me that unless I could come they would have to cancel. So I agreed to forgo my meeting and go with them.
The teacher then went on to explain that they would be climbing the headlands above a beach to do sketching.
The word “headlands‟ jumped down the telephone line and seemed to reverberate around the room.
This sounded steep, high and quite a climb.
I am 64 and asthmatic. These strenuous words almost bought on an asthma attack right then and there! But I had agreed. That night I woke every hour on the hour from 1 to 5 a.m. with thoughts of climbing Everest entrenched in my mind.
The day dawned fine and sunny so this was indeed a bonus. It was not raining, but then again if it had been, they may have cancelled and I could retreat into the non-strenuous Grandparents Raising Grandchildren meeting! Ha, no such luck. So off I set with asthma inhaler, spacer and water in my backpack.
The girls were typical 14 year olds – full of energy and walked at a cracking pace. We rounded the corner and there before me was my Everest. A narrow path rose vertically and evilly snaked to the right, obscuring goodness know what.
Concerned thoughts raced through my mind: heart attacks, asthma attacks, and the potential need for calling a rescue helicopter. Suddenly loud and clear I could hear that Kenny Rogers song The Gambler singing loudly in my mind: “know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em” This was enough for me – I took his advice!
The teacher meantime must have seen the look on my face (colour had drained at this point) and kindly said: “you stay down here and I will take all the girls”. So I had a peaceful hour sitting in the sun on the sand watching the sea – something far more becoming for this granny. And I did not need to puff on my inhaler once.
Next time I will make sure I know where we are going before agreeing to anything! Know your limits.
This whole scenario made me stop and think. Here I was – busy, running around after the grandchildren and putting myself last. Time to act! So with great trepidation I got a Green Prescription from my Doctor – this enabled me to join a gym at a discounted rate. I was extremely worried that there would be all these fit, young gym bunnies there and I would have been the oldest person. Not so! They had a seniors group. The regime starts up with very short exercises: five sit up and downs on a chair, five lift ups of what looked like a broom handle, five press-ups standing against a wall. The tread mill – well what can I say, I nearly fell off, but only two minutes was required. I was amazed at how quickly these numbers increased to 50+, then 100+, and the tread mill: I now can do 20 minutes, yes I can do it! Better still I was also able to do these exercises at home too, as only basic equipment is needed and I can walk instead of using the car.
With renewed vigour, very soon I shall be volunteering for every school trip going and Kenny Rogers song will be banished from my thoughts.