Barbara: Functional Fitness, English Edition

Last week, I had to make a fast trip back to the UK to support my beloved CR in the settling of his mother’s affairs, including her house. There was a funeral, too, of course, but funeralsthe abandoned abbey at Battle don’t seem to always require a lot of physical strength.

What did require stamina was two 12-hour flights (including lay-overs) in less than six days. It also took a lot of strength and stamina to unload and unpack and sort through all the things that were in the house.  It was not unduly cluttered or overwhelming, only the simple, sweet, ordinary flat of a retired woman with many pictures and plants and kitchen gadgets.   We had to bring down the detrius of two childhoods from the attic, which involved a ladder and passing things through a hole in the roof.  The days whooshed by, packing, sorting, packing, walking up to the village for a meal, walking up to the village to get more trash bags, walking around Cranbrook to buy a shirt (because….uh…someone might have washed a lipstick with her beloved’s white funeral shirt). One day we took a lunch break and drove to Battle (the site of the famous Battle of 1066, which really did change history) because it was only a few minutes drive and I’d never been there.  (“What?” said The Brother when I tried to puzzle out where the battleground was after realizing a church by the lawyer’s office was Norman, “you’ve never been there? It’s right by the tip (that would be the dump. I think). I’ve been driving there three times a day. Let’s just have a break and have lunch there.”)

So we did, and it was muddy but fresh and not raining, so we all got some fresh air and a bowl of soup and a tromp around an ancient battleground.

At times like this, I am grateful for the ordinary routine of ordinary exercise. Not to burn off fat or get a six-pack or give me a great ass.  No, just walking the dog every day to keep my body functioning.  Swimming sometimes to keep the shoulders loose and arms with enough muscle to be useful.  Lots of gardening (oh, does spring ever seem further away than in February??) to keep the body flexible and ordinary sorts of muscles working smoothly and strongly.

That ordinary sort of exercise, the sort I’ve been urging here so much, meant that it was possible to do all that flying, hauling suitcases and adjusting to jet lag, work really hard for several days, do all that was required for life.  I could simply do it.

A sudden upheaval of any kind is an extreme example, of course, but it’s also realistic.  Things happen in all of our lives that require ordinary, daily fitness. But functional fitness is important in all aspects of our lives.  You can not only show up when there is an emergency, but you can do things on your own to keep yourself moving and independent long into ancientness. You can carry a bag of cat litter or a bag of soil, shovel snow (at least light snow) and clean windows and pick up a child.

Regular routines create regular fitness.  How are you doing at building those ordinary routines into your life?  If you’re still struggling, what’s standing in your way?  Maybe it’s a mental block, maybe a physical one.