All This Ageing Well Is Killing Us

Staying fit at 50 is bloody painful – but it’s better than the alternative

Injured knee dreams of running

THE MISSUS AND I both woke up this morning crippled – in our different ways.
 
For me, it was a screaming knee, banjaxed from a three-mile run yesterday.
 
For her, it was throbbing feet: mangled by dancing in heels at a banging Gary Numan gig.  
She was also – as befits her instinctive embrace of the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle – hungover from drinking too much wine before, during and after the show.
 
Meanwhile, despite a blameless, booze-less, low-salt, night in, I was appalled to have a shocking headache of my own – the result of cutting out caffeine too drastically.
 
And then it occurred to me: trying to stay young was killing us both…

To be honest with you, I expected to feel a lot better after heeding my doctor’s advice to try and shed pounds, tone up, lower blood pressure, etc.
 
I mean, I’ve even started doing two minutes of planks while microwaving my low-cholesterol porridge oats – so it could just be that I’m being too keen, a soupçon too Aniston-Wahlberg, for my own good.
 
Because what I expected from all my running and dieting and sobriety was to feel great – not to have a knee that yelps and grinds and gives out under me as I shuffle off to the toilet in the early hours.  
 
Shouldn’t exercise and good, clean fun – or in Her Outdoors’ case, dirty, raucous fun – be more obviously rewarded?
 
I mean, if we’re all going to try and feel young until we’re at least 90-odd, will it be this hard for the next 40 years?
 
What? Harder, you say…?
 
In that case, maybe The Missus and I need to manage our expectations of what we can do – and to downscale our Fit at 50 ambitions a little bit.
 
This morning, I was all for going back to The Doc and demanding that, if the NHS wants me to exercise, then the NHS can give me a better knee – even if it is boracic at the moment.
 
But, on reflection, maybe I should listen to my body, and ease up just a little bit.
 
I could do more gentle exercise like cycling and swimming – and just accept that they take twice as long to deliver their payload of burnt-off calories, while being harder to fit into a busy life.
 
The Missus, meanwhile, would do well to reflect on the axiom – now inscribed on birthday cards everywhere – that the only real cure for a hangover is being under 25….
 
But, on the bright side, the fact that we do have choices about ageing these days is a considerable improvement on what went on before.
 
In Days Of Yore, right up until the 1980s, a middle-aged woman like Her Outdoors would have abandoned her boots – and her attempts to cling onto her youth – in favour of a nice pair of flats for popping to the shops in.
 
Gary Numan (who, with his penchant for hair transplants, is a notable devotee of the Stay Young and Beautiful approach) would have slipped quietly into retirement at the first sign of the dreaded penalty spot on his noggin.
 
And I wouldn’t be wearing running shoes at all – but checked slippers and a cardigan with holes/leather patches at the elbows.
 
Nor, back then, would I have sat confidently astride a bike, in Lycra.
 
Instead, I’d be trying to look a bit racy à la Graham Hill, driving something large and wood-panelled – and inevitably rocking a car coat, cap, and leather gloves with string nets on the back
 
It’s also worth remembering that, in Days Of Yore-r – such as the start of the 1870s – there was no need for the middle-aged angst de nos jours, because most us were Stone Dead at 41.
 
And that’s where we would all do well to remember the eternal adage: Old (and indeed middle) age is shit – but it’s better than the alternative…
 
So, what else can we do, but grind on? 

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