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Everyone knows exercise is good for you

I have always known exercise is good for the body, for the heart, the lungs, the muscles, the bones – and have done my best. I have friends who have done more than their share, one even does Ironman Triathlon races (a bit over the top if I may be permitted to say), but hey, everyone has their passion.

I hated sport at school, running around in the most unflattering navy-blue knickers that were the regulation gear for girls. Playing netball, I would be the first to get rid of the ball, like it was a hot potato to be passed on quickly, and would rather stand on the sideline, trying not to make eye contact with the teacher, in case she beckoned me onto the pitch. Hockey was another, I was clumsy and would fall over my stick, or someone else’s stick. Sports Day was a nightmare as it was compulsory to do a field event, and I would ensure I was on either edge of the hurdles track so I could run round them, rather than over them.

As I grew older, I took up tennis. I took lessons and became proficient enough to be able to actually win a few games, and continued to play until I was 8 months pregnant, then had to stop because no-one would play me anymore. I suppose they felt bad at making this huge blimp of a woman huff and puff across the court.

I took up going to the gym for a while, taking up interval running in the vain hope of actually being able to road run with that effortless lope experienced runners have. I even engaged a personal trainer. It didn’t happen. Keep fit classes followed on closely at the same gym, but my knees started to complain at squats, so I soon gave up that too.

Step-classes was one I enjoyed I must admit, it didn’t seem too strenuous, and the music was upbeat. However, when they raised the height of the step, being short, I gave that up too.

I started to go to Tai chi classes in the local village hall in Ireland where I was living. It was serene, controlled, restful – but had 102 moves to complete a ‘set’, and it was hard to remember where the moves appeared, especially as some were repeats. I took part in a demonstration once to drum up some more interest, and the first set went oh, so beautifully, all of us moving as one, in a graceful flowing movement. After a break we repeated the set, but I missed the bit where they said turn round, so now I was facing in the wrong direction, and in the front row instead of the back, and shamefully I ruined the effect.

I learned to swim as a child at a swimming pool with an Army instructor, who had no qualms about bopping you on the head with a long pole if you weren’t doing it right. My mother used to take me, and I can’t believe she didn’t intervene when a grown man, a drill instructor probably – started bashing us poor kids around. She was probably thought it was good for us.

They say regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health. Being physically active can improve your brain health, help manage weight, reduce the risk of disease, strengthen bones and muscles, and improve your ability to do everyday activities. But I don’t think getting up and down from an armchair cuts it, does it.

Line-dancing, Zumba – been there, tried it. Knees didn’t like either activity. Pilates is my latest attempt at exercise, how easy could that be? You don’t leave a nice spongy mat – and when nobody’s looking you can just lay there, mentally putting the world to rights. Well, I have managed to put my back out twice trying to just touch my toes, and can’t stand on one leg to stretch the other without falling over.

It seems I am the only person around without a single athletic bone in my body – or am I?

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