“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.