Friday, April 3, 2015

Age and exercise

I'm on a real rant this morning. I keep hearing and reading dire warnings about the dangers of sitting and inactivity. And I understand and agree with the premise and reasons. What I have issues with is the physical ability to actually accomplish this.

No more than 8 hours per day sitting, and even that is way too much, according to Dr. Oz yesterday. So here's my question: Assuming we sleep for 8 hours (I wish!), and hit the bad end of the spectrum and sit for 8 hours, that still leaves 8 hours of the day when we are supposed to be on our feet. Doing what? And with what energy? I get that we need to not sit for long stretches at a time -- get up and walk around every hour or so -- but seriously, how many of us past the age of 30 are really able to spend 8 or more hours standing, walking, or some form of activity that doesn't include sitting? (Unless you have a job that keeps you on your feet, in which case your body is used to that.)

I try. I keep trying to extend the amount of exercise and activity I do, but the body just won't let me. By Fridays (today!) I'm generally physically wiped out and that's the case this morning. My arm muscles are gently throbbing and feeling puny and weak. Overall energy is low. I'll still go to the gym and force myself to spend the entire hour there, but if it's anything like last weekend I'll be wiped out the rest of the weekend.

I remember well when I first moved here 10 years ago -- 10 years younger, obviously -- and tried to spend more time exercising. I ended up drained, even then. And before I 'retired' and  moved here I was working half time, going to the gym daily with heavy weight training and movement, riding my bike all over town on errands and long hours and miles over hill and dale on the weekends. Other than the employment, I continued that degree and type of exercise once here. The gym, lots of walking, lots of time exploring the wonderful 18 mile riverside bike path and eventually, highways and byways and big hills and long hours on the bike again. But I couldn't do all that every day and I remember being frustrated. Was my weight already beginning to inch up? I don't remember, but I do remember convincing myself that I needed use all this new time availability to spend more time moving. So I tried to extend activity to every day and it didn't take long at all for the body to say: stop! Even though it was in great shape and even though I was eating well, the body hit a brick wall that seemed impossible to break through.

The same thing is happening now, with 10 more years on the body. It's not lack of will power or interest, it's the lack of muscle energy, overall energy. Maybe if I slept better that wouldn't be an issue, but I haven't slept well for 30 years, so I don't expect too many major changes in that anytime soon. My sleep is better now than it's been for a long time, but that's still not saying much. Are some of us just genetically programmed to do less at this age? I'm not trying to become a teenager again, or compete in the Olympics (or anything else). But surely, the body could handle an hour of good exercise per day. Wouldn't you think?

Yesterday, to keep the weekly exercise hours up, I walked down the hill, around the neighborhood and back up the hill, for about 50 minutes of walking. It felt great, and I felt great, but today -- I'm bushed. I always think 'keep it up and the body will adjust' because that's logical. But it never seems to happen that way for me. Over the last 7 days I've had a big 5 hours of serious exercise. Surely there could be more. But how?

I force myself to stand when I want to sit, and stretch, and walk around the room and do these little things that keep me off my butt as much as I can, but there is a limit. What do we do with the rest of those 8 hours per day that we need to be active?


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