Exercise is cheating – or so I thought.

I’ve always had a twisted view about exercise and fitness. I know it’s not right but it’s ingrained in my soul.

I was a very young boy when the 1956  Olympics hit Melbourne.  I was excited as everyone else to have the cream of the world’s athletes in our town. The best versus the best.  At that time I had no idea athletes actually trained. I thought that they went into their events pitting their natural “God given” abilities against each other.

It was quite a bit later that I found out they actually worked on their fitness and skills to reach their peak.

That didn’t seem fair to me that someone with more time on their hands could train harder and beat someone with more natural ability  but a lower level of fitness. Now I did say I had a twisted view on the matter.

As an adult people would question me about my fitness and I would reply I’m fit for what I do, drive to work, sit at a desk, walk to the news car, drive to a story etc.

It wasn’t until a got cancer that diet and exercise came into focus.

I have painful memories of recovering in hospital after undergoing surgery for colorectal cancer. My first exercise was to blow into a tube and try to make a ping pong ball rise.  I guess it was to get the lungs working. It was bloody hard, but over time did get easier.

Then came the physical exercise, at first getting out of bed and walking to the door and back – agony, followed by exhaustion.

I was encouraged then to start walking laps of the ward. Sometimes I lied saying I’d done 3 laps when I’d only done 2.

I thought everyone was being very cruel insisting that I put myself  through the torture.

However, after leaving hospital and reading up on the matter it became apparent how vital exercise was in my recovery and not only recovery but to reduce my chance of getting the cancer back.

The old common wisdom of chemo patients doing nothing but resting after treatment has been thrown out.  Exercise, in particular weight bearing exercise, has so many benefits including less fatigue, improved mental state, better sleep and fewer side effects.

So after 50 years of knowing better I hit the gym every week and get on the treadmill as often as I can.  I know I could do more but hey I’m coming from long way back.

I actually feel in better physical shape now than I did 15 years ago.  A bit embarrassing to admit to really.


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