I, along with many Americans, became an exercise fanatic in the 80’s and 90’s and I am paying for it today with worn out joints, and constant aches and pains. As a consequence of so much overuse, I underwent my second hip replacement in July. (Thank you, Jane Fonda, Gilad, Richard Simmons, Jillian Michaels, Kathy Smith and others.)
Back then (80’s & 90’s) was the time I discovered Jane Fonda’s DVD’s “WORKOUT” which became the top selling DVD for 6 years (17 million copies were sold between 1982-1995.) Step aerobics then became the rage, and I was totally addicted to it. I had my own set of plastic steps with adjustable risers, as did a lot of my friends. We worked out on them constantly, thinking we were improving our health and longevity. Since that time our fascination with all forms of exercising has not abated…Pilates, Rumba, Circuit Training, Boxercise, Yoga, Salsa Dancing, Rock Climbing etc.
I cannot think of a friend in my age group that hasn’t had a body part surgically repaired or replaced because of wear and tear on their joints. From June through August of this year SEVEN of my condo neighbors have had knee or hip replacements. Our swimming pool, once a source of pleasure and relaxation, has become a physical therapy treatment center, with residents doing a series of strengthening and range of motion exercises after their respective surgeries. They’re no happy, smiling faces, no gleeful splashing of each other, no floating on noodles or tubes. Instead, you see them, muttering to themselves, counting their repetitions, leg lifts and squats. (Supposedly exercising in the water is good for you as it’s easier and puts less stress on the joints.) Isn’t it ironic that we must have these orthopedic surgeries because we “overdid” it - and yet the cure – the pathway to recovery – is to exercise again????
I have joked that I blame Jane Fonda for all of this, but in truth, I believe it was the relentless media emphasis on the benefits of exercise that pushed so many of us “over the top”. I can still remember the hundreds of fire hydrants, sit-ups, leg lifts etc. that I did over the years to strengthen my core and give me stability. Then the gym and home equipment boom began with stationary bikes, treadmills, stair climbers, rowing machines, and Pelotons everywhere. Even the simple and pleasant exercise of walking took on a new dimension. We bought I-watches and Fitbits to count our steps, and a day was not successful unless we’d averaged between 5000 – 7500 steps. Whatever happened to the gentle walks around the neighborhood after dinner, sucking on a cherry popsicle or a Good Humor? Are those simple pleasures and gentle way of exercising gone forever? I don’t know, but I have painfully learned the lesson of moderation. Don’t go for the burn. If it hurts – STOP.
As those of us who are afraid to fly always say, “If God meant us to fly, He would have given us wings.” I say, “If God meant us to climb a million steps in our lifetime, He would have given us feet with cleats.”
Until my next inspiration…ciao.