Exercise is a tricky thing – we all know we should do more, but we invent reasons why we ‘don’t have enough time’ or are ‘too tired after work’. The fact is, we haven’t incorporated exercise into our daily life. We find time to watch TV and surf the internet, play computer games and talk on the phone. I am as guilty of doing this as anybody else – my son always nags me to go the gym (which is literally next to the lift up to my apartment), but I chose the comfort of the couch instead!
However, I also know that ignoring the facts about cardiovascular disease, or CVD, is foolish. CVD is a class of diseases that involve the heart or blood vessels and is the biggest cause of deaths worldwide. Wealthier societies like the UK , the United States and Singapore have increased risk of cardiovascular problems, because we eat richer food, have more stressful lifestyles and live longer. When I decided that I would fulfil my lifelong dream to trek to Machu Picchu, I knew I would have to prepare myself to walk the 60 kilometres over four days and in high altitudes!
My son insisted that I buy appropriate footwear, wear them in and start walking for three hours each morning. THREE HOURS! I hadn’t walked for three hours in years – or maybe decades. So, like any sensible retiree, I chose to ignore this sound advice. Eventually though, his insistence and that of my team leader, that I prepare myself adequately meant that I did start practising – but barely a month before departure!
I’ve been lucky to not have had any major health issues, despite a few scares in the past. It sounds obvious, but one thing that healthy people take for granted is their lack of disease and discomfort! It’s only when it hits your friends or family that you start worrying about yourself. However, the counter-intuitive nature of human psychology makes us IGNORE the facts even more – and to continue watching TV. I know, I’m guilty of watching the History Channel and the National Geographic Channel for hours on end – instead of using the free gym downstairs.
Thanks to my family’s encouragement, I overcame my fear of exercise, waking up at 5:45am for two weeks and walked for 15km each morning! I managed to avoid getting blisters because I got great shoes by Merrell, and by wearing two pairs of socks (more on how to walk properly in another post).
Four weeks later, I was trekking the Salkantay Trail to Machu Picchu, so glad that I did overcome my fear of exercise! Whatever your age, you can start today. Walking really is the easiest way to get started, and once you’ve made a habit of it, think of all the places you’ll go!