Games should be played for fun

“The truth is that a sedentary, middle-aged office worker who watches Wimbledon from his sofa with a glass of red wine in his hand is less likely to need the attentions of an orthopaedic surgeon, a sports doctor or a cardiologist than is the keen athlete who plays a devastating game of tennis once or twice a week.” I feel vindicated

Everyone I know, of about my age or younger, who has dodgy knees, an arthritic hip or shoulder or severe muscular damage is or has been a keen sportsman (I do not consider this word gender specific). I’m not, of course, including people with a chronic illness or who have been in bad accidents. One friend of my age, for instance, has had an operation on her elbow already and she’s just told me that she’s now awaiting one to reattach her left bicep (skiing) and her surgeon has told her that she has distinct signs of arthritis in her shoulder. She was a keen competitive squash player, among other sports, and always pushes herself to her limit.

I have several friends who damaged their Achilles tendons or their knee cartilege, and every one of them had been playing sports at the time.

I’m not against sport or exercise, of course, but I am not at all sure about the wisdom of pushing yourself or your children too hard, particularly in competition. I had one dear friend who used to jog hard once a week, and he worried me. I told him, frankly, that he was too old for it (this was when he was in his late fifties) – that either he should run more gently several times a week, or that he should walk briskly instead. I was devastated to be proved right when he dropped dead, jogging, at the age of 62.

The local gym is less than two miles from my village. The number of people I know who drive there rather than walk. Who never really walk anywhere, even if it’s feasible, who take the lift or the escalator, and then solemnly monitor the exercise they take in the formality of a gym.

I should move about more, perhaps – if given the chance, I’m bone idle. But, though I enjoy a game of tennis (haven’t played for ages, mind you), on the whole I prefer exercise to be useful. I’ll go for a walk through lovely scenery or to get somewhere, but doing it just for the sake of the exercise doesn’t come naturally to me. I lift 40 pound boxes of bananas and 25 kilo sacks of potatoes, but I wouldn’t dream of weight training.

I’m no role model at all, I’m podgy and unfit and, as I said, very lazy too. On the other hand, I have never injured myself (except when unwisely crawling through Squiffany’s play tunnel, learned my lesson there) and I can still touch my toes (yes, without bending my knees, what do you mean am I sitting down at the time?) I think a lifetime of dedicated inaction might serve me well in my old age.

12 comments on “Games should be played for fun

  1. badgerdaddy

    I see what you’re saying… And I’m sure I have some serious injury in front of me; my brother, for example, ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament last year and had to have it rebuilt. I also have weak anterior cruciate in my right leg, so who knows what might happen there?
    But I’m not going to stop running (not that I’ve done a lot recently), because I decided a while ago, after much thought about how I want to live my life, that running had to be a part of it, and so it shall be. I decided it would be my way to see the workd outside of work, running marathons and shorter races in different countries, different worlds.
    I’d hate to get old and think ‘My knees are fine – could have done those bloody marathons after all’.
    I’d rather use my body and yes, push myself. I have a sedentary job but I love sport, and if I don’t exercise it causes more problems than if I do – remember my crippling back pain last year? I could hardly walk for a month, I couldn’t even stand up straight. I ad to work kneeling so I could get back up. The problem? Resting a niggling knee worry! The rest allowed my muscles to shorten which knackered my back!
    It all need common sense. No matter who you are, if you don’t listen to your body, you’re going to get hurt. Runners who say they ‘ran through the pain’ are fucking idiots who deserve injury. Pain is, after all, the body’s way of telling the brain it’s hurt. The one exception to this is ‘the wall’ that marathon runners face, of course.
    I’m rambling; I hope to be old and injury ravaged but bloody happy and with a lifetime of memories having seen the planet and met a million wonderful people through running.
    It’s saved me in many ways – without it, I might have started smoking again, or all kinds of crap.
    Besides, I love it. And I don’t run hard, that’s for mentalists.
    Ramble over.
    PS: I totally understand where you is coming from, cat. Just so’s you know.

  2. Z

    Well, actually I think regular distance running is fine, You know I wasn’t criticising you, don’t you. And if I had been, you could rightly have told me to sod off.

    Fortunately, I never had any bad habits to overcome. All those vices I have, I like, and intend to hang on to.

  3. badgerdaddy

    Of course I know you weren’t criticising me! You were talking about people that actually push themselves and are competitive – I’m not especially, but I do believe in doing things well and putting effort in if you are going to do them at all.
    Hence going off on one at The Daughter last week – if you’re going to play half-arsed, find someone half-arsed to play with and you’ll be fine!
    I’m just putting off work now – 14 pages to complete today, only two of them written, two transcriptions to do and the lot to lay out – plus a 5:30am train to get in the morning.
    Piece of piss.

  4. Z

    I’d drive you mental if I played tennis with you. I giggle a lot when I miss the ball. It’s not that I don’t try, just that I don’t take it seriously.

    Piece of piss, forsooth. It’s all bravado. You’ll be telling us how you were working til 2.30am, later.

  5. badgerdaddy

    Can’t work until 2:30 with a 5:30 train to catch and two train changes before I hit the airport!!
    I might have to though.
    I laugh a lot when playing too – I have to enjoy it or there’s no point! But I also put a lot of effort in. Just because I’m trying hard doesn’t mean I can’t laugh at myself. In fact, the opposite is true – the harder I try, the more I laugh!

  6. Liz

    I don’t know how you can call yourself idle when you do so much physical work in your son’s shop!

    I am myself bone-idle and also a wimp. However, I did manage to find enough energy to boogie the night away on Saturday. It took a large application of ibuprofen gel to my aching legs to get me moving on Sunday though.

    Being fit and being healthy are two different things. Having no car, I walk a lot and my diet isn’t too bad (if you ignore the chocolate intake) so I think I do enough exercise to be healthy, but I’m not and never have been physically fit. My Mum can still tough her toes, but I can’t. I can remember a school medical at age 13 and the doctor laughing because I couldn’t touch my toes even then!

  7. Z

    Liz, when I know I’m going to be busy I pop an Ibuprofen pill in advance. It saves a lot of the ache. But I’m a lot older than you (and never was as pretty).

    I can work hard, but if there’s no deadline to meet I feel no compulsion to do anything at all.

    Murph, I don’t smoke when I run, but I’ve been known to steam.

  8. badgerdaddy

    Yeah, steam comes off me too, unless it’s really warm out. In fact, I steam right up to July sometimes.

    First time I noticed it, I made the mistake of stopping some poor bloke in Norwich and asking if steam was coming off me. Needless to say, he looked at me like I was mental.

    When I got home, I knew it was steam though, so sod him!

  9. Z

    ooh, how kind you are. And, of course, how little you know me.

    Not that I’d ever claim to be anything but perfect, of course


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