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By Bill Statham
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Jean Shaw© -
I have a teenage son who discovered keeping fit about the same time he discovered girls. I'm not complaining because it means I have quite a collection of fitness equipment at my disposal. The thing is – I hate using most of it.
However, I do like the treadmill and rowing machine so for the last two weeks I've been using them on a fairly regular basis.
I've also been shown some exercises to do using weights. These are supposed to build muscle and firm up all the flabby bits without turning me into a female version of The Incredible Hulk.
It's early days but so far I'm enjoying the workouts and can see the difference even without my glasses. I also feel more alert as the oxygen must be getting to my ever-
Looking back over the years I definitely felt at my best during my late twenties and early thirties, and I suspect it had much to do with the fact I regularly played squash. This energetic ball game really gets the heart pumping and the oxygen circulating through the blood. I stopped playing after I had children and any woman reading this will most likely understand why. I miss it though and wish I'd carried on, as I'm certainly no longer "fit".
Your fitness level is determined by the amount of time it takes you to recover after some form of exertion, and currently there's much room for improvement in my case. I'm working on it though – slowly and surely. I'm building up gradually.
It's not surprising I felt good when I was thirty because that is the age when you have the most brain cells, and have built up as much muscle as you will ever get without positive intervention. After that age it's all down hill. You start to lose your brain cells and 1/2lb lean muscle mass every year unless you do something about it.
That's a problem because 1 lb muscle burns 100 calories as compared to the measly 3 burned by the same amount of fat. It's no wonder most people eventually get "middle age spread". No matter how active a person may be, unless he or she builds muscle to replace that being lost, the fat will pile on.
However, it's not easy to stick to an exercise programme especially if you don't actually like doing it. Often people have busy lives and schedule exercise in, so if it's considered a chore it's destined to fail.
In order to build up your fitness and get both quality and quantity from your exercise you have to feel a certain way otherwise you can't push yourself to do just that little bit extra every day. It's important, therefore, to do something which YOU enjoy and not something someone else thinks you ought to do, or will enjoy because they do.
At the moment the treadmill, rowing machine and weights suit me fine, but as I said, it's early days. If I start to find excuses not to use them I shall look for something else to do because I know if I want to fire on all cylinders I need to eat properly, increase my fitness (recovery) level and get plenty of rest and sleep.
Jean Shaw is the author of
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