I work in a real estate office in an upmarket suburb of Auckland. We have a corner shop with a window on the main street and other windows along a walkway back to the Village Green and parking. Back there is also a retirement village. We work to a background sound of clompity clompity clompity or clonk, shuffle, clonk, shuffle as a constant flow of elderly inch along the walkway with a variety of walkers and walking sticks.
In the beginning, it worried me to be constantly reminded of where I was heading but now I see it differently. I see it as a signal to take control of my health right now.
With my sedentary job and sedentary blogging in the evenings, I am a candidate for a bad old age. I was born and raised until my teens on a farm where movement was natural and gyms unheard of. We ran outside and played and dreamed up other worlds with our games, always on the move.
Through the years since, I have attended gyms, danced, played squash and injured myself on numerous occasions while carrying out these forced forms of exercise. It has always felt wrong that I had to make myself exercise to stay healthy. My father was super fit but he didn’t run marathons, pump iron or sweat buckets achieving very little. He was a farmer and constantly on the move. He might have run in short bursts after a wayward sheep and certainly lifted heavy objects but he didn’t carry out activities which kept his heart rate high for any length of time. And yet my doctor told me a few weeks ago that we have to exercise hard enough to be unable to talk three to four times a week for at least 20 minutes at a time. I can assure you my father never did that and yet he could walk up steep hills without puffing. There’s something here which doesn’t compute.
I have spent the last two years, after a knee injury stopped me going for walks (I might have mentioned this before), riding a go-nowhere bike five times a week for 30 minutes on the advice of a medical expert. I hate it. It feels so futile.
I am back to walking, going to that park I wrote about recently so that I can lie down on the grass and soak up the sun, then walk back once I have had my daily dose of Vitamin D. That feels much more organic. I also park the car, when I have it, 10-15 minutes away from work so I have to walk there and back. That sets up a purpose for the movement and it feels less artificial. That adds up to about 40 minutes each day – not bad. It’s a start anyway. Meanwhile the elderly who wander past keep me alert to stay motivated to move and to eat well, the way our ancient ancestors did.
These chicken cupcakes stay well within the guidelines of the Paleo way of eating though I doubt our ancestors would have had muffin tins and piping bags. There are certainly advantages to living in the modern age.