The Benefits Of Exercise As Revealed By Forced Inactivity, Which Is Turning Me Into An Old Person

Hi folks, welcome to my thoughts of the day! Yes, I just write about what is on my mind and going on in my body at the time.

Misty morning walk with Willbe small fileThis lovely misty morning I took Willbe, our yellow lab, for a nice walk, during which time I had plenty of opportunities for reflection due to his need to sniff at every post and tree. I am clearly suffering from a number of adverse symptoms of my forced inactivity. I normally undertake Ironman training for 10 to 25 hours per week, depending where I am in the training cycle. Now I can do very little as I await corrective surgery for my displaced AAA stent graft. What did I conclude about the physically inactive life-style?

  1. I don’t awake so easily in the morning, whereas normally I’m bouncing with energy, just like Willbe, and drinking my early morning tea by 4:30 am most days.
  2. My body feels stiff, and is harder to get moving – I feel like I’m turning into an old person.

    Source unknown - provided by my sister, Marian, in Spain - Tx!

    Source unknown – provided by my sister, Marian, in Spain.

  3. My guts are not happy – they are not receiving their normal daily massages as I put my body through a regular exercise program.
  4. My appetite is off, but I’m tempted to drink more wine, which I have to curb for obvious reasons.
  5. Old injuries seem to ache more, which I found to be odd, expecting the opposite.
  6. I know that my genetic hyperlipidemia will be returning in force – Ironman training and the Paleo diet took my HDL from the normal <20 to >70 – how’s them apples?
  7. Most importantly, my mind feels more sluggish, and less replete with it’s usual stream of exciting ideas.
  8. I feel as though I’m turning into an old person – I’m not having that! I’m not ready for being put out to pasture.

Are these symptoms attributable to fear? I suspect not, having put that beast to rest, feeling pretty happy most of the time. I only have to wait a few more weeks for corrective surgery.

The only benefits of the absence of my normal training program are the vast tracts of time available for reading and spending time with family and friends.

Addendum: Bob pointed out in the comment stream that we all need a rest period, so I guess this is a second training advantage of my situation. Agreed. “Always look on the bright side of life.

-k @FitOldDog



  1. Aaahhhh, sounds familiar. Our bodies WANT to be worked. You are in a forced limbo land right now, it will pass and you can return to hopefully the same high level of activity you have enjoyed so far. How would you address those of us who enjoy doing little; it’s such a luxury to not have to be so active after 40+ years of forced activity.

    • Hi Marsha, well, I guess you could enjoy physical decay, or take up an effective but non-stressful meditative approach, such as Tai Chi. Can’t imagine feeling like that, always been doing something since I jumped in my first swimming pool as a kid. Um! Try lots of different activities until you find one you really like – how about Zumba? Cheers, Kevin

  2. I highly recommend reading “Grain Brain”. In fact I think everybody should read it.

  3. Bob Watson says


    Forced inactivity is a blessing.

    A recent occurrence stunned me, and made me recognize that I was in deep trouble. I was feeling very pleased with my workouts which had been at a high level for a prolonged period. What I missed was the effort required to complete these workouts. If there was a meter, then my recent workouts had taken something like 120% of the effort required last summer.

    I was unknowingly sliding into exhaustion. After the wakeup call I backed significantly away from my training regime. All of a sudden I was tired, lethargic and could not think my way out of a wet paper bag.

    After backing off for about ten days I’m feeling almost human.

    We all need an off season.


  4. We all need an off season; that’s good. And I’ll look for The Grain Brain. My body won’t let me do high level of activity anymore. I used to be that person; 20 years ago. My problem is accepting this fact. I do lots of things that I enjoy for physical activity; I’m just not on any training regimen and have no desire for that. I tried Zumba; my feet won’t move that fast anymore. Tai Chi would be great; and I’m looking for yoga classes again (that aren’t in a gym). I like to swim, I like the weight room, love my long walks. I’m gradually accepting that this is where I am at nearly 67, and it’s OK.

  5. Marsha, I’m 64 and I do kundalini yoga, which is more strenuous than hatha yoga. You could try it; though it is challenging. Or, if it is too much then the hatha yoga. Actually there are many kinds of yoga. I personally love the kundalini yoga because it IS a challenge; it is also very varied, with pranayama (breathing exercises) and meditation mantras, which I love.

  6. For cardio I do zumba. Luckily I am good on my feet! There is Zumba Gold which is for seniors, which isn’t so fast.

  7. Perhaps it would be preferable to say that your forced inactivity is making you feel less fit, and that you miss the exercise. You’re no older than you were before, and people in their 30’s or 40’s who don’t take care of themselves probably feel pretty lousy, and they might attribute those feelings to getting “old”, when in reality they just aren’t fit, not because they are old, but because they aren’t making the effort required to be fit. Generally speaking, you strike me as being younger than many others your age or younger, because of your outlook on life, a part consequence of which is that you do take care of yourself. I think it’s entirely up to you whether or not you feel old.

    • Very interesting and important comment on semantics. This comes down to how we habitually define being an old person, which is clearly derived from what they appear to be in ones society at the time. If chronologically young people hobbled around, had wrinkled skin and poor eyesight, that would be part of our definition of young, and if chronologically older people had the reverse, we would define old and young conversely to the present day. I guess we define old by what we see, and when it changes through diet and exercise and the like, it takes time for the language to catch up. Um! This is an important point, because words have considerable power over our lives. I know plenty of women who see themselves as fat, but they are not, they have a healthy body, but seeing themselves as fat cripples their self-esteem. Same goes for ‘old.’ But I’m fitolddog, creating a semantic conundrum for my brand – what’s to do? Think about it with my healthy young brain. Good comment, young man. Food for thought. -k

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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.