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Getting Fit in Later Life!

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Written by Peter Kelley

I’ve been stretching a couple of muscles lately. My loyal readers might recall  a  couple of years ago, I wrote about the weird experience of realising two of my toes wouldn’t separate – presumably dues to half a lifetime of wearing shoes – and then discovering that, over a few months of staring at them and trying, I was able to ‘teach’ them to move again.  (Yep, retired people do have time on their hands.)

That little adventure in strangeness was the result of taking up yoga… which, in the two years since, has made me stronger – as well as more flexible – than I’ve probably been for at least a decade.
And now I’m learning to stand on my head. Well, trying…

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As kids, we can all do that, of course, and I could probably still ‘throw myself up there’ if I didn’t mind breaking a bit of furniture. But doing it properly, in a controlled way, as my yoga teacher wants me to, involves back muscles I didn’t know I had, and being able to move my shoulders in a way I really, really can’t.

The thing is… I guess I’d have just given up, if not for that little experience in 2015 with the toes. It taught me it’s surprising what you can change, if you go slowly.

And that has led to me creating a bizarre kind of structure involving the end of my bed, some pillows and a wooden clothes-drying rail which – in a way totally impossible to describe – lets me wedge myself half upside down every morning and work on the bits of my back and shoulders which aren’t functioning.

I know, I know… one day, when the fire brigade has to be called to get me down, this is going to take some explaining.

But slowly, over a few weeks, my back is getting stronger and the furniture is doing less of the work. I’ll be 67 in a couple of weeks. So the real point of this article is to offer a bit of encouragement.

Not everyone’s daft enough to want to stand on their head, of course. And you obviously need to be careful about this kind of thing (at any age). Check with your doctor if you have any doubts (high blood pressure, for example).

But what I’m finding I that – within limits – you can get fitter in your later years. Progress might be a bit slower than in your 20s or 30s. But that’s OK. And provided you’re realistic in your expectations, the sense of achievement can be good for your mental health, too.

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For more fitness advice visit our Health section HERE

Age UK Norwich is a great resource and you can pop into their Information and Advice Centre on London Street Norwich or look at their website to find out a whole range of great social and leisure activities in the area.

If you’re inspired by Pete, The Norwich Buddhist Centre website can give you more information on yoga classes.

About the author

Peter Kelley

Pete Kelley is a retired journalist and now writes freelance and volunteers as a welfare rights officer and trustee for Age UK Norwich.