It is very noticeable that the Nepalese who have recently settled in Plumstead are in the habit of exercising, whatever their age. In an ideal world, we would all be encouraged by our parents to find and enjoy the best sporting activity for our bodies and personalities. But we don’t live in such a world, and sometimes we have to decide to make a positive change for ourselves. I think it is generally agreed that as we age, our bodies start wearing out and not behaving as they did when we were younger. Not to mention drying out and sagging. Certainly I have seen what a devastating effect ‘having a fall’ can have on the confidence as well as the physical body of an older person. Then there is the cumulative consequence of habitual activity or lack of it.
On the one hand I know someone who played badminton competitively at county level who has had his hips and knees operated on at a comparatively young age as a consequence of the damage done by the demands of the sport on his joints. On the other, I know of someone who is virtually housebound; maybe if she had been more active when she was younger she would still be more mobile. Who knows? I recall a former neighbour who walked with 2 walking sticks when I first arrived in the street, but who, by the time I left 13 years later used neither of them. When I asked her what had happened, she told me she had realised if she didn’t do something she would end up immobile. Going to the gym three times a week had turned her life around.
Taking the analogy of the body as a home, it follows we can’t all live in a mansion – to some extent we have to accept what we are given, be it a semi-detached, a terrace or a tent. But at least we can do what we can by the way of keeping active. So walking up the hill instead of taking the bus would be like getting the boiler serviced. Changing our diet could be compared to flushing out the central heating system or pushing the hoover round. Or, if your body is more of a tent than a temple, shaking the crumbs off the groundsheet.