Something over twenty years ago, I bought a book of exercises. It includes graded exercises, divided into ten weeks. I am currently on week seven.
I feel that the overall plan may have been a little optimistic.
It is true, I must confess, that I have not managed to keep up daily exercises for the whole of the last twenty years. I have, however, been pretty much keeping them up for the last nine months, more or less since last year’s asthma attack cleared up. And yet, while I am on week seven, I am not even fully doing that.
The problem is the press ups. The exercises require twenty press ups, followed by five hand-clap press ups, where you push yourself up off the floor, clap your hands, and then return to the front-support position.
This morning, for the first time in my life, I managed twenty full press ups in one go. Adding the hand claps is, as yet, utterly beyond me.
I don’t know whether my arms are naturally very weak, but the press ups have always been the most difficult part of the exercise set. If I leave it for too long between exercises (like, a couple of years, which is what happened when I came to Japan) the number I can do falls to zero. For a full press up, the whole body remains tensed with the torso roughly parallel to the ground, the torso touches the ground lightly and the legs not at all, and the arms do not relax at the bottom. For quite a while I couldn’t even keep my legs locked for long enough to do twenty press ups, never mind the complete failure of my arms.
I’ve been on week seven, doing the exercises six days a week, since I got over my New Year illness. At the current rate, I might get up to the 20+5 in another month or so.
I believe I have already mentioned my scepticism about the rate of progress proposed in the book.
Still, I have finally got to the point of feeling the benefits of exercise; the middle age spread has virtually disappeared, climbing four flights of stairs to our flat is no problem at all, and I can carry Yuriko around the flat if necessary. (Fortunately, that is not generally necessary.) I also have a feeling that I need less sleep than I used to; I seem to be coping on 8-9 hours a night, rather than 9-10.
So, on balance, I think that the exercises are effective. They’ve just taken rather longer than the advertisment promised. I’d ask for my money back, but twenty years of inflation mean that’s not worth the bother.