Keeping Those Legs Moving

One concern I had about retirement was in regard to my physical fitness. A challenging stressful job encouraged me to attend the gym regularly and to walk whenever possible. I wondered if I lacked the discipline to maintain any ‘’keep fit’ regime. To encourage myself I undertook the ‘Couch to 5K’ challenge ( https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/couch-to-5k-week-by-week/) and committed myself to writing regular updates.(http://perpetually49.com/couch-2-5km/ – link to first of Blogs relating my experience)

I am not a runner by nature and I still dislike the activity, but I did complete the challenge. I then went on to gradually increase my distance until one day I ran 10Km in 1 hour and 15 minutes! And that was it – or so I thought. Having achieved such a level of fitness I am determined to maintain it for as long as possible, although not as a runner. So, what else is available?

I must acknowledge that some people enjoying running – as noted by the following link https://maturingwell.co.uk/index.php/2019/10/26/never-regret-going-for-a-run/ – uploaded by a Blogger who does enjoy a run.

I regularly attend a local gym. Although I use the equipment – Cross Trainer, Static Bike and Treadmill – I have not yet attended any of the group activities (available at no extra cost). I really must investigate these and try something.  As I already attend a Iyengar Yoga group elsewhere I thought I would look for something with a faster movement – Zumba Gold? I am not a natural dancer so this will be interesting ?

The importance of maintaining fitness is well documented not only for your physical state but also, very much so, for your mental health.

There are an increasing number of ‘Retiree’ Blogs and keeping fit and active is a common topic. I have inserted links throughout to some of those I found such as https://exerciseright.com.au/retired/ a general website with an overview of fitness – there are some  downloadable resources which may be of interest.

Of course, keeping active is not only about running a marathon or going to a Kick-Boxing class – it is equally important to both enjoy what you are doing and to challenge yourself. (it is often said you should scare yourself at least once a day!)

If golf, hiking and/or sailing make you happy then doing these activities will add to both your physical and mental well-being just the same as swimming 3 miles before breakfast.

We talk about physical fitness yet not so much about mental fitness – except to worry about Dementia. A topic so much in the newspapers now, accompanied by reports of the lack of available treatments and the difficulties of early diagnosis. Enough to invoke the stress and anxiety often stated as a contributory factor! Although both my parents lived until their late 80s their latter years were blighted by the diagnosis of Dementia. So, I have first-hand experience of how the disease impacts on quality of life and the extended family.

Keeping mentally active by learning new skills, maintaining social interactions and physical fitness – alongside eating and sleeping well – are all factors often cited as beneficial to retaining mental agility.

https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/staying-mentally-active – general overview of retaining mental alertness

https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/how-to-in-later-life – includes links to free downloads with information about how to stay mentally fit in your later years.

Short term memory issues such as ‘forgetfulness’ are common in all of us – who hasn’t been half way up the stairs and forgotten why you are going, or put the milk in the pantry and bread in the fridge?? When young we put this down to lack of concentration yet for the majority of us ‘oldies’ we worry that Dementia is setting in. Well, it might be but in reality, it is more likely to be as before – lack of concentration.

Social isolation is often noted to be a contributing factor to poor mental health so it is important to talk – join in family/friends events, accept invitations to gatherings, join a regular group activity local to where you live.  Joining a group/club that meet regularly may sound frightening if you don’t like meeting strangers so remember – everyone in the group was new once and would also have been anxious at their first attendance. ‘Strangers are only people you haven’t met yet’. If going alone is an issue then perhaps contacting the group leader prior to a meeting would help. An introductory conversation giving you information about the group may even inform you that you do know some-one who attends.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/health-fitness/body/mind-healing-socially-active-retirement-good-health/ – general advice on staying social and avoiding boredom (it’s detrimental to your health)

http://www.talkhealthpartnership.com/blog/2019/11/5-effective-ways-to-prevent-loneliness-this-winter/ – the focus here is avoiding loneliness and isolation (which can lead to depression and lack of motivation) this winter

Working naturally provides opportunities to interact with others both at work and at work-related social events. This avenue of communication is often closed once retirement occurs so by acknowledging this when planning your retirement loneliness/isolation can be avoided – by identifying interest groups, starting a new hobby etc before retirement starts.

If you already feel the need for assistance with loneliness contact Silverline www.thesilverline.org.uk – a telephone friend will work with you to re-ignite your social confidence. Telephone number is 0800 470 80 80.

A very simple way of maintaining self confidence in social surroundings is to just leave the house. Yes, just put on your coat and go for a walk. You will be surprised how many others are also out and about, doing the garden, walking the dog etc. If you acknowledge their presence, then 99% will respond. Use the bus instead of the car where possible, as well as reducing your carbon footprint, you will be surprised how easy conversations start whilst at the bus stop.

In general – maintaining social interactions promotes both mental and physical health – so, put on your coat and keep those legs moving.

Further general information in links below:

https://arborliving.co.uk/7-of-the-best-ways-to-keep-fit-in-retirement/ – another easy to read site with general advice. Does highlight the need to be honest with yourself, sticking to your plan or changing it – disinterest encourages apathy as we all know.

http://toofattorun.co.uk/blogs/ – Okay, so this Blog is not necessarily about Retirement and fitness but is worth a read if you fancy moving the legs faster. Am guessing that you do not even have to be overweight – just keen to join in, yet aware you may be out-of-practice or needing a bit of encouragement.

https://www.wearejust.co.uk/health-and-lifestyle/physical-wellbeing/active-pastimes/ site with general information presented in an encouraging motivating manner, includes links to other sites for further in-depth information.

http://perpetually49.com/staying-active/ – original article written in 2018 with links to further information.

Photo Acknowledgements:

Photo by Cristina Gottardi on Unsplash – Featured Image

Photo by Danielle Cerullo on Unsplash – Zumba

Photo by David Goldsbury on Unsplash – Golf

Photo by Eddy Klaus on Unsplash – Man Painting

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash – Family Group

Photo by chelsea ferenando on Unsplash – women in coat

Photo by Ben Rosett on Unsplash – End Photo

 

Couch 2 5Km The Final Update:

Having at last found a way that I could both achieve the challenge of ‘Couch 2 5Km’ and do so in a manner that would encourage me to maintain the level of exercise, I enjoyed the final week.

 First run of the week was along a ‘traffic-free’ country road and was as usual a mixture of trotting/running/brisk walks. I covered 6.4 Km in 53.3 minutes. Hardly giving Paula Radcliffe any exercise but really delighted me.

Then for Run 2 I was back in the gym – this time solely on the Static Bike and only for 35 minutes.

This included both warm up and cool down periods, I set the bike to the ‘Hills’ mode so there was effort required and challenged myself to have cycled 5 Km before Roger Federer took the first set. He was playing Kevin Anderson in the Wimbledon quarter finals and I know that he can complete a set in 16 minutes, so the race was on. And I won (thanks to Mr Anderson being a tough opponent, if truth be told). I covered 5 Km in 24.9 minutes – the first set lasted 26 minutes.  Phew!

In total I did 6.95Km in 35 minutes.

Whilst cycling I had a chance to think how I have increased my stamina and general fitness in the last 11 weeks. I now recognise that my ‘gym sessions’ previously were more to promote my mental health, that I ran on the treadmill to de-stress rather than to gain fitness. Not that there was anything wrong with that – just I had thought I was doing both until now.

To maintain what I have gained physically I will need to keep up the level of exertion and surprisingly I know I will – I think I have more energy and feel less tired. I also know that as people age it is harder to regain lost muscle strength than when young and after all this hard work I am not going backwards. (Plus, without any effort I have lost 1.5Kg of weight)

Now to the final effort:

The hot weather meant that the final spurt would have to be completed indoors, even gentle trotting is exhausting in the humidity we were experiencing in July of 2018.

 

I started on the Treadmill – brisk walk and run for 1.5Km, then moved to a Static Bike and cycled 4Km in the next 25 minutes then slowly pedalled for the remaining 5 minutes – so in the 40 minutes I moved my legs over 6Km (I forgot to re-set the machine for the final 5 minutes so no info!)

 

 

 

Although I did not run non-stop for 5Km, and I never will, I think that I have achieved the essence of the challenge. I now intend to increase the distance I cover over 60 minutes of fast walking time – I wonder if 5 miles (8Km) is doable?

Photo Acknowledgements:

Photo by sydney Rae on Unsplash – End Photo

Photo by Vernon Raineil Cenzon on Unsplash – Featured Image

Photo by Shep McAllister on Unsplash – Roger Federer

Photo by Nathalie Désirée Mottet on Unsplash – Runner

Couch 2 5Km Update 4:

Every day ‘something fast’ was the plan and, so far I am on target. The heat has made it difficult – even in the gym it is stifling. Aware of the rarity of the hot conditions so trying not to moan. Yesterday I covered 4.8Km (3 Miles) in 43 minutes. Due to heat I had intended to just walk briskly – the surprise was – I kept breaking into a run!

Wimbledon and sunny weather are both distractions but still on track to do week 9 run 3 shortly.

Reflecting on how I have tackled this challenge so far, I identified that my lack of enthusiasm for running must have contributed to the slowness in achieving the goal. Despite being a regular attender at a gym and a keen walker I never ran anywhere so in reality I was starting from a baseline of Zero.

Although I can now run 2Km in under 15 minutes and regularly walk 3 miles in 42 minutes I do not feel any further progress. I decided to review how I was trying to achieve the goal. Perhaps it was more about keeping the legs moving, improving speed and distance, raising pulse rates and increasing stamina rather than focusing on running 5Km in 30 minutes.

I went to the gym and looked at the machines. Now, I can walk easily so thought the treadmill would be good to use for the ‘warm up walk’, the Cross-trainer would exercise arms and legs and as I enjoy cycling the Static Bike would introduce some pleasure. All these machines have screens displaying scenic routes and I would have earphones for music.

 

I decided to use all 3 and in 40 minutes I travelled 7.5Km – which included both the warm up and cool down walks.

 

 

I, at last, felt a real sense that I can achieve the goal.

Photo Acknowledgements:

Photo by morgan sarkissian on Unsplash – Featured Image

Photo by George Pagan III on Unsplash – Gym sign

Photo by Martin Barák on Unsplash – Bikes

Photo by ivan Torres on Unsplash – End photo

Couch 2 5Km Update 3:

Oh Lordy, Week 8 and it is really serious now. Continuous running for 28 minutes! I’m an old lady, what was I thinking??

Encouraged by the third run of week 7, as 3.8Km is close to 5.00Km, I felt I ran further and faster. Indeed, doing 4.4Km on the first run of the week. Although still a mixture of trotting and very fast walking rather than any Paula Radcliffe style of running. I am protecting my knees, nursing my back and have a blister on my right little toe – I should be at home watching daytime TV.

Week 9 – now expected to run for 30 minutes continuously – 30 MINUTES!  Only 2 more minutes per session than week 8 I know BUT psychologically it is enormous.

I feel that I have moaned and groaned my way through this whole challenge and I don’t care. Despite the heat, the knees, the blister, the hay fever etc etc I am still here – and that is what counts.

 

My first run of week 9 was in our local park and very pleasant, well, if I hadn’t been running it would have been. Still a mixture of jogging and very fast walking but I did cover 4.828Kms – so frustrating. Although also good, if I had achieved the 5Km I would have packed up and gone home – only joking.

The second run was back in doors at the gym and I was feeling confident after Run 1. So exciting as I actually ran non-stop for 2 Km! As time passed I thought to myself Michael J. should surely have been saying ‘You have run for 10 minutes, doing really well’ – or similar, looked down at the App and it was on pause! 

Luckily, I had set the machine to move for 40 minutes so I had some idea of progress but in the end only ran 4.4 Km. Oh, never mind. Always tomorrow (my Scarlet O’Hara moment)

 

Run 3 is the point at which the 5 Km should be achieved – I decided that I really should start taking this seriously (sounds of an awakening competitive gene, methinks) So, I have chosen to delay the 3rd run and instead train for the final attempt. Hayfever and a heatwave helped my decision. So now everyday for a week I will do something fast. I can now run 2Km non-stop in less than 15 minutes. Today I have just ran/walked without pause or slowing for 40 minutes and covered 5.295Km. not really achieving the objective (as that includes the ‘warm up’ walk) but does feel good.

Looking back on first C25K post – I said that June 25th was the date of the final run. Today is 26th ….. so encouraged.

Photo Acknowledgements:

Photo by Zac Ong on Unsplash Featured Image

Photo by Agê Barros on Unsplash Timer

Photo by Bradley Wentzel on Unsplash End

 

Couch 2 5Km Update 2:

I must admit I struggled with Week 5 – not just my dislike of running but oh, my knees! I felt that the level of activity and length of runs was really a noticeable ‘Step Up’. Although let’s be honest – it is not really running, still just light jogging with Michael Johnson’s verbal encouragement in my ear but, oh it hurt.

I had great plans for Week 6 as I would be in Stockholm, Sweden and the weather forecast was good. The hotel had a gym so I thought I would try that out first – it was small and busy and I felt guilty ‘hogging’ the running machine so the first run of the week did not go to plan. Not to fret, I thought, I would do Run 2 outdoors.

Up early and in the dawn sunshine I set off from the hotel. The paths and roads were surprisingly busy for 7.00am and I did become lost on a few occasions which was distracting. I decided that I really should put the plan ‘on hold’ although I kept the legs moving by doing my own version of running/brisk walking for the rest of the week then re-started Week 6 once back in England. This will delay the actual 5km run.

Who am I kidding – I was never going to maintain the timeline.

Stockholm, in case you have never visited, is a beautiful city. Reminded me of both York and Venice but more of that in a different post.

Back to the task in hand. I re-started the sessions by running/walking along the banks of the river Tees in lovely spring sunshine.

Week 7 was another ‘Step Up – and Oh, my calves! I stretch, I warm up, I cool down and yet this week my calves have letting me know that they do not like running either.  As the Hay Fever season was with us I thought it may be best to move indoors do a session in the gym.

Well, that may have worked except for the guy on the running machine next to me. He started off well then slowed and coughed and wheezed and stopped. Then once settled he would start running again – then the coughing and slowing would start, then settle. I diagnosed Exercise Induced Asthma (can take the girl out of nursing but not nursing out of the girl) although knowing that did not stop the distraction as I was conscious of him all the time.

Run 3 nearly didn’t happen as in the morning I twisted my back and caused it to spasm. I kept changing my mind as to whether it would be best to delay exercise for a day. In the end I decided I was just taking the easy road because running is not my thing so – 400mg of Ibuprofen and off I went (this is not a recommendation, nor advice). I covered 3.8Km in the 35 minutes which was really encouraging and my back felt a lot better.

Week 7 complete and on to Week 8, I’m still in the game.

 

Photo Acknowledgements:

Photo by Jennifer Birdie Shawker on Unsplash (Featured Image)

Photo by Peter Wendt on Unsplash (Stockholm)

Photo by Elijah Hiett on Unsplash (Hayfever)

Photo by Yuki Dog on Unsplash (end photo)

 

Couch 2 5Km Update 1:

Having survived to week 4 I thought I would up date you on my progress. Week 1 involved 3 sessions, each of 30 minutes and comprising of 7 sixty second light jogs. These were interspersed with timed episodes of brisk walking all the while Michael Johnson spoke encouragingly in my ear. It all sounds a doddle – it wasn’t.

Although fair to say that by the third day I was looking forward to it, not proud to say it was more to do with ‘getting it over with’ than any anticipation of enjoyment.  At the end of the session Michael J. advises a drink and a snack to ‘replenish and re-energise you’ – so I had a cup of tea and 2 biscuits, not sure that is what he meant ?

In week 2 the length of the light jogs increases in time to 90 seconds. I did find these more difficult although mostly because I had miscounted the number of runs in Session 1 and had not finished when I thought I had ☹. The disappointment stayed with me all week. That said I did notice by the end of the week I was running longer distances in each 90 second jog than I had at the beginning of the week. Now for 2 days off (I don’t do weekends)

Week 3 had a shock – the sessions now included 2 runs of 3 minutes! I had decided to try running on the treadmill at the gym instead of the paths near the house. Previously I have had difficulty even walking fast on treadmills, so anxiety levels were high. All was well, so I now know if there is heavy rain I have no excuse. Is that a good thing?

Week 4 already and is approx. 50% of the way there.

Just some general advice – Be Sensible, whilst offering encouragement by sharing my story I have no idea of your state of health or fitness so can not offer any specific guidance.

If you have never run before or have been inactive for some time I would suggest that you ‘step it down’. Instead of ‘walking briskly’, walk at your usual pace, instead of doing the ‘light jogs’ walk briskly. It may mean that instead of jogging 5Kms in week 9 you walk 3Kms briskly – it is still beneficial and could lead to you then taking up the challenge as originally intended.

Week 4 really stepped it up a gear – there are two 5-minute runs in each session, interspersed with shorter runs and brisk walking. I must admit by the third session and the final 5-minute jog I was struggling. I consoled myself that I had spent the previous two days going up and down a step ladder whilst decorating a bedroom and yet here I was, still on track.

Onto Week 5 Run 1 – I still dislike running.

Photo Acknowledgements:

Photo by Arek Adeoye on Unsplash (Featured image)

Photo by Emma Simpson on Unsplash

Couch 2 5Km

Couch to 5 Km

Firstly, I must admit – I hate running. I can climb on a bike and cycle for hours but running, it’s not for me. I would rather miss that bus and walk to the next stop.

When at work I regularly walked between buildings, returned on foot to the railway station etc. and always wore a pedometer to ensure I was keeping mobile despite hours sitting on trains and at meetings (a day in Sheffield including a walk from the train to the Hallamshire Hospital and back was a journey of 17,000 steps).

Since I no longer work, nor travel as much, I have looked at a variety of ways to maintain fitness – physical health underpins mental health and agility as I am sure you know.

Listening to BBC Breakfast one morning I heard a discussion about a Public Health England App – Couch 2 5Km – and thought ‘now there’s a challenge’

https://www.nhs.uk/LiveWell/c25k/Pages/couch-to-5k.aspx Follow the link for detailed information, find the downloadable App on the App Store

One You Couch to 5K logo image

Looking at the information on the website there is a 9 week programme which guides the participant through a common sense build up of strength and stamina towards achieving a 5Km run – and you get to choose your trainer, I choose Michael Johnson.

Now, I am still not convinced I will run 5Km, nor that I will enjoy the process although determined to accept the self-imposed challenge.

Updating on a regularly basis, I think, will encourage me to at least be an enthusiastic participant. Starting on Monday 16th April I should be running 5 Km on June 25th. I’ll let you know.

Photo Acknowledgements:

Photo by Coen Staal on Unsplash