Some years ago, I had an acquaintance I knew through my work as an author. Like me, she was self-employed, worked from home, and had a tendency to get up, fling on the first things she could find, and snack her way through busy but sedentary days with little thought about whether another chocolate Hobnob was a good idea or not.
It was only when she had a big meeting or a presentation to do that she would panic in the preceding days, think about her appearance and do a crazy few days of exercise and dieting.
Then when she took early retirement in her fifties, she breathed a sigh of relief, put on her comfy clothes and relinquished the home exercise bike for good.
“Oh, I can’t be bothered,” she said. “I’ve got everything I want in life – why push myself at my age to do things I really don’t care about and be someone I’m not?”
So now I’m going to mention my younger son – there is a connection! It’s true what they say, that you never stop worrying about your kids even when they are no longer kids.
As a busy musician and DJ come self-sufficiency expert with two small children, for him personal exercise has come last for many years, and with that an ever-increasing waistline though he’s only just 32. Now, after a dream he had two nights in a row, he’s just announced he’s going to take up running. Or more, accurately, walking to begin with, hopefully interspersed with more and more running as he gets fitter.
Having been worried for him about his fitness level and burgeoning weight for several years, I’m delighted and hope he sticks with it. Reading this week that over a fifth of UK people can expect poor health by the age of 30, it really is important.
Yet it is very easy to postpone that first step towards a healthy diet, and/or weight loss and/or physical fitness. Or to give up the whole idea, like my erstwhile work friend.
And yet, whether you are 30 or 50 or 80, it is so important to give your body the chances it needs to stay or get fit and healthy. Without going mad. Two recent reports confirm that small and sensible amounts of exercise are the way to go – one from Yale University which studied 1.2 million people, and the other from Public Health England which encourages just ten minutes a day of brisk effort.
I’ve found two programmes that may help. For people like son who have long been inactive it’s important to do things sensibly. So we have the safe NHS programme for beginner runners, Couch to 5km. And we have the PHE app, Active 10, for those who may prefer the short and sweet approach.
Whichever – do do something! I totally agree with Esther Rantzen, who has, for some reason, been working on her own coat of arms recently, and has chosen wisely when deciding on the words it will contain. She applies it to her life in general, but it is particularly apposite for your diet, activity and well-being.
“If not now, when?”