One of the more annoying things that people can say to me is ‘wouldn’t you feel much better if you exercised more?’ To me, that sounds an awful lot like ‘heave your untoned arse off the sofa and stop lazing around every day’. But maybe I’m just being paranoid?!
Hmmmmm, exercise they say? Now that you mention it, it does seem like the most obvious of cures.
Silly, silly me, how could I – or my doctors, come to think of it – not have thought of this sooner. Let me flush all these unnecessary prescription pills down the loo, skip to the gym and body pump this chronic disease right out of my system. Perhaps I could jump up and down, take a run, climb a rock, go for a swim or crunch my body into submission. Who knows, once I’ve zumba-ed my way back to perfect health, maybe I’ll be able to walk on water, or, better still, turn H20 into wine!
I nod and smile through gritted teeth. Yes, I agree, it would definitely be good to do more regular exercise, but sadly that’s not always an option for me. Most well-meaning and tactful people stop dishing out advice at this point. But there’s always one. The one that never knows when to reel it in and zip it up. These people I could happily slap.
But why not, they want to know. Exercise is ever so important they say.
Hold the press, groundbreaking theories being formed here: Had I considered, perhaps, that it is my very lack of exercise that’s making me ill?
Had you considered, perhaps, that you’re getting on my very last nerve?
Have I tried a particular type of yoga? they enquire. It’s called the Born Again Dying Swan and it’s all the rage. Originates from the monasteries of ancient Tibet, apparently; best-practised butt naked and balanced on a 2-foot pole in temperatures of exactly 89.9 degrees. Cures cancer and better than botox, so their best friend’s mother’s nutritionist said.
OK, enough now. I know in your head you’re trying to mean well, but out here in my world, you’re not. Please just SHUT UP. Why? Because in this instance you have absolutely no clue what you’re talking about.
Clearly, I know that exercise is good for you; it stops you getting fat and keeps you healthy. Yes, I also know it can make you feel energetic, pumped up and happy to be alive. But here’s the bit you don’t get. For some people (that would be me) it can also wipe you out and leave you in a whole heap of pain. A gentle walk or an overly ambitious bout on a yoga mat can cause joints to swell, nerve ending to burn and limbs to feel like they’ve been shrouded in concrete. It can make my arms hurt and my bones ache. And as for those incredible little endorphins that exercise releases? Believe me, when I tell you they’re simply no match for out-and-out, dog-tired exhaustion.
So yes, exercise is good and healthy and fun. And yes, moving faster than a sloth on a regular basis would no doubt do wonders for my pathetic muscle mass and wobbly bits. But here’s the issue I have: there is simply no way of telling how much is too little or too much. An extra 10 minutes in the wrong direction with the dog can be my undoing; there are no warning signs and there’s no going back.
So please people, quit with your well-meaning advice and consider this. Living an often sedentary life is most certainly not a life choice. It is frustrating, boring and incredibly depressing. Every single day I miss what my body used to be able to do and it often makes me cry. In the good old days, I used to spin, swim, gym and downward dog with the best of them. Hell, I even kickboxed my way around the mat once upon a time.
So believe me (and every other medically induced couch potato) when I say nothing gets our backs up more than being told exercise will ‘make us better’. No one is more clued up on possible treatments and ‘miracle cures’ than us, and if it were as simple as that, don’t you think we’d be out there pumping, squatting and peddling along with the best of them.
A little bit of sympathy and understanding, on the other hand, would go along way to making us feel better. Ditto for flowers, chocolates, and dropping by for a cup of tea when we’re feeling low!