A Bit Fit

Since retiring I have been working hard at my fitness, now doing 8 or 9 classes a week in addition to gym workouts. There have been a few hiccups along the way when longstanding knee issues or calcific tendinitis have intervened, hurtling me to the consultant and physiotherapy or steroid injections.

Whilst I know that I certainly have more muscle tone than 4 years ago, it is sometimes difficult to gauge actual fitness levels especially when there are bouts of gaining pounds rather than losing them. Whilst fitness isn't necesssarily about weight, it is also true that any increase, despite all the effort, is sufficient to send me spiralling into the depths of despair not least when I have convinced myself that as well as exercising I have been eating sensibly too.

The truth, of course, is that food and drink play a significant part in our social life and travels and theoretically the greater leisure time afforded by retirement can equate to an increase in consumption. When did anyone ever go on holiday with the intention of losing weight?

For a time last summer ascending a hill or walking approximately 4 miles on the flat would cause such discomfort and swelling in my knees that I could be relied on to start hobbling. 

I had seriously begun to wonder if I would ever walk a pain free 5 miles again. The physiotherapist had consolingly told me to take it gently, gradually increasing from 1 or 2 miles and not pushing my knees too quickly, whilst doing specific exercises to help stabilise them and to release tight calf muscles. Although I tried to follow that advice, it is always difficult seeking to assess how much progress you have made.

Recently, however, I have had a little boost on two occasions. The first was in New Zealand under a scorching sun and the second in the Lake District during intermittent snowfalls. Both times I succeeded in walking over 8 miles including significant uphill stretches with no obvious after-effects. Proof too that rather than waving a white flag and surrendering as we get older and those inevitable niggles occur, we have to work harder for victory, using our muscles or losing them.

Last week I had a health and fitness assessment at the gym. They are offered regularly as part of the membership but, disillusioned by the pain in my knees, I had let them slip. Not any more, my fitness levels were ranked as very good whilst my muscle mass has increased significantly.

Cynically, Mister E reckons the Instructor was bound to say that in order to ensure my continuing attendance. You know what? Even if he is right, it made me feel better and reignited my enthusiasm for sweat, endurance and healthy eating. It has confirmed too what those recent 8 milers told me. The goal now has to be to extend that to a pain free 10 miles and beyond; I can see this evolving into a second challenge for 2019.


  1. Congrats on your pain free eight milers and your positive fitness assessment! Everything does seem to get more difficult with age I think. Dave gets frustrated that he can't do as steep a mountain walk as he used to because it makes his heartrate too high to be comfortable. Instead we're trying to do walks that are less physically strenuous, but to go out more often so the overall benefit is similar.
    At least we are all still getting out and doing something!!

    1. Yes, we all seem to acquire little niggles but unfortunately they aren't quite small enough to ignore

  2. That's good news indeed - 8 or 10 miles without pain is quite the accomplishment. I would recommend to increase distance walked very gradually. A couple years ago I got back into running and I increased the distance too quickly and by too much setting me way back unfortunately.


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