PE Failed Me

Standard

So, to confirm, a bone density test had recently indicated that I’m approaching a low enough density to have osteoporosis. This is not good at all.

Guilt is an immediate response. Why haven’t I exercised more? Yes, I should have. But I’m not a complete lump. Reading more about factors associated with it removes some of the negative energy I was feeling about it. I’m small, don’t weigh a lot, and it runs in my family.

Plus, as I was reading somewhere else. bone density drops when you’re breastfeeding (though it goes back up within a few months of stopping). So, while I’m still taking this seriously, at least it might not be quite as bad as suggested.

Aside from mean kids and no friends (for a while, anyways), PE in high school was worst. A teacher who liked the jocks, which I wasn’t. The 12 minute run, which was AWFUL. Assorted sports which I couldn’t do well. My grades were saved by the meaningless written tests: memorize the mundane rules of yet another sport. Admittedly, I did enjoy soccer, even though my glasses broke when I caught a ball on my nose, and high jump, gymnastics and occasionally sprinting (100 m., who knows why??). Outside of school I was passionate about, first, ballet and then gymnastics (obsessed would be a better word).

Nonetheless, none of this transferred into fitness for life. If anything, PE left me with a severe distaste for anything athletic. It was uncomfortable, socially awkward, served no purpose but to torture me, and held me back from doing more important things. Nowhere in my 3 required years of PE did I internalize the health benefits of fitness, or participate in any activities that could have formed an ongoing fitness habit. The course was all about being a “course” – an old, dated curriculum requiring participation in standardized activities with no concern for their relevance beyond gaining course credits.

I look back on my 20s. Aside from walking and dancing at dances, I had no other fitness outlets. Work out at a gym?? Are you crazy? incredibly awkward, uncomfortable environment; I would have no idea what to do there. I did try a few yoga classes and a bit of Aikido, but nothing really caught on. I did walk, a lot, though. My 2nd year of grad school I walked to and from campus every day, 40 min. each way. Poverty has hidden benefits.

My 30s I lived in Virginia and had some fun opportunities for exercise. Being in a warmer climate kept me outdoors more. I took dance classes at the university and danced and choreographed on the side with some friends. Once in a while I even tried running – shocking! And then there was the ocean, where I learned how to body surf. After that was Mississippi where I took a few yoga classes at work, and walked a fair bit around the neighbourhood. Back in my hometown, I sometimes did not much and other times went dancing quite a bit.

Now, I’m nearly 40. My 40s are going to have to be about fitness. I’m integrating 1 or 2 yoga classes a week at work. I plan to go for walks at lunch pretty often. Walks with baby on my days off are a definite priority. And I hope to find something more – possibly a dance class or something else – that will keep me active and ward off physical decline. Or, more positively, build my strength, flexibility and ability to engage with the world.

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