How I Beat My Exercise Phobia To Become Fitish
“Sorry Mum” I whisper in her ear but I’m not sure if she can hear me or understand me or if in fact she recognises who’s talking to her. My mother has advanced Dementia, unable to see or walk, fully dependent on high care at the nursing home and exists in a ‘twilight zone’ between life and death since suffering a series of strokes last year.
I owe my Mum an apology for forging her signature on ‘sick notes’ back in primary school. Every week without fail, the teacher would receive a note apparently signed by my Mum, stating that I had some type of medical condition which excused me from any physical activity of any kind. Swimming didn’t appeal because it meant getting my hair wet. They quickly removed me from the Softball team when I stood there watching the ball roll past me, calling out that someone should pick the ball up. There were attempts at Tennis, Vigaro and Basketball but all were crossed off the list after just one game.
The school teachers tried their best to spark my interest in Physical Education and even made indoor bowling an option which was soon replaced by spending the PE session visiting the Multiple Sclerosis organisation headquarters and helping them with mail-outs seeking donations.
I also owe myself an apology for not reaping the benefits of exercise for so long. Wisdom of hindsight has taught me that exercise is not punishment for overeating and in fact can reduce the risk of developing several diseases such as cancer, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
I’m not really sure why I had this adversity to sport or exercise, but I was an avid reader, preferring to immerse myself in magazines and books and even reading the Thesaurus from cover to cover during one school holiday. After finishing school, I continued to shy away from any sport or exercise although I made many donations to many gyms hoping that paying the gym membership fees would somehow improve my health without me actually attending the gym.
Fast forward in time to me being diagnosed with having a blood clot and requiring blood thinning injections. This diagnosis triggered alarm bells loud and clear as my Dad, who passed away from heart failure, had been taking blood thinners for around 30 years and I became very familiar with all the side effects and the impact it had on the quality of his life.
Apart from a total overhaul of what I was eating, I realised at that point in my life that I would need to move my body in some way every day and I discovered that walking 10,000 steps a day would be a do-able challenge for me. I also became aware of a whole calendar of ‘charity walks’ where I could walk 5 or 10 kilometres and raise money for a worthwhile cause. This method of fundraising appeals to me on many levels. It’s such a win-win situation, knowing that you are doing yourself a favour of improving your health by walking or jogging, and you are helping to raise funds for the various charity organisations. Walking with friends, enjoying a laugh along the way and taking in the scenery definitely makes it a feel good experience. And of course we go for coffee afterwards!
To date, I’ve walked to support research and help find a cure for Cancer, Multiple Sclerosis, Strokes, Kidney Disease and on Sunday May 28 I will be walking to support Alzheimer’s Australia (QLD) in the Brisbane Memory Walk and Jog.
If you have a family member or loved one affected by Dementia you will know what a thief Dementia is. Robbing people of their memories, their quality of life and their dignity.
Currently there are no medications or supplements that decrease the risk of Alzheimers, nor are there any treatments that stop or reverse its progression, though some may temporarily improve symptoms. According to research, exercise programs may be beneficial with respect to activities of daily living and can potentially improve outcomes. In developed countries such as Australia, Alzheimer’s is one of the most financially costly diseases as affected people increasingly rely on others for assistance.
It might seem costly to eat good quality food and pay for exercise programs but what price do you put on your health and wellbeing?
You often hear people saying they want to live a long life but what’s more important is the life in your years. Take my advice, if you’re not keen on exercise rethink what benefits physical activity can make in your life. Take a look at the calendar of charity walks in your area and take the first step today.
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