My GP too has been telling me to exercise from some six/seven/eight years ago when he decided that I was suffering from early-onset arthritis.
Last year I suffered a frozen shoulder from which I am still recovering. I also suffered a pain in my thigh. Said to the GP, "If a pain in my upper arm was caused by a problem in my shoulder joint, does a pain in my thigh means problems in my hip joint?" He nodded.
Bah! I thought. His advice? "Exercise."
For some strange reason, I decided to do 'lunges', left and right, morning and evening. After several weeks, the pain eased.
In July I resigned my membership at the gym at which I did aqua aerobics three times a week where possible. Started walking briskly round a nearby park instead. There is also an open gym and I do a few minutes on each piece of equipment.
While walking round the park I saw a trainer making someone do squats with arms folded. I added squats to my lunges. At first I could barely managed six or seven, then I increased to ten, twenty, twenty-five. Now I do one for each year of my life, but divided over two sessions, morning and evening, with the lunges and squats.
Then while watching Shirley Ballas on Strictly Come Dancing kick her feet to her bum (demonstrating Charleston?) I decided that I will do some of that as well. Let's just say it was not possible for my heel to hit my bum no matter how hard I kicked when I first tried it.
From there I used my hand to catch on to my ankle (same side) and balanced on the standing leg. Then I pretended to be a figure skater and held the free arm aloft. And then what do you know? I see a picture of the soon-to-be her royal highness doing this:
Clearly my ankle is not yet in the same position as the above. But what I felt after a good stretch like that, holding this position for as long as I could, was blood flow and muscles gaining strength, it seemed. The stretches became easier and I am able to vary the angle and amount of stretch. The focus needed to balance also helped the breathing (or the breathing helped the focus, whatever).
Is this a dance or yoga pose? Does it matter?
One sister had been warning me against taking up yoga because there is a spiritual element to yoga and she thinks that Christians should avoid any practice where there is a risk of spiritual input apart from what is taught in the Bible. Another sister, a church-goer, is pretty flexible from years of yoga training.
And me? Through discovering a helpful stretch I decided that just because someone had given it a name and loaded a lot of spiritual meaning onto it, it does not mean that this system has the monopoly of stretches and exercises.
My husband does not work on most Fridays, usually. What does he do, usually? He sits in front of Bloomberg TV -- as if watching business news would make any difference to our lives -- and ... falls asleep. Last Friday he had to clear out a few things and then build up something else. And he was full of energy instead of being 'tired'. He even said he felt energized.
The key? Adrenaline.
I realized that exercise is important not because it would/might make us look like Meghan Markle. Sure the stretches help the joints no end. Trying to achieve balance also strengthens muscles. More fundamental than that, exercise is important because it gives our adrenal glands a reason to fire up. Fight or flight.
As I get older, my body needs to fire up those adrenal glands even more than when I spent every spare minute in school playing basketball. Otherwise my blood would struggle to reach those organs that need the oxygen, right? Disclaimer: I am not an expert in any way on the human body.
So I think of Freda from my church: aged 99 and often seen bouncing around the shopping centres around here, taking advantage of her freedom pass to travel on the bus and Tube. She does not walk. She walks briskly, and very upright.
I started with doing very little, listening to my body. I think the pain in my thigh has gone. I can easily squat at book and supermarket shelves, and stand up with no pain. And that, is a result.