By Jennie

I grew up in a small town on the outskirts of London where at that time, very few people owned cars. When I return to where I lived now though, the street is lined with cars on both sides with barely room for a bus and a car to pass in between. I find it more interesting to link the number of cars now with people’s health. We are all so much bigger now and often with associated health problems – high blood pressure, diabetes, etc., etc. The proliferation of junk and unhealthy food of course is partly to blame, but cars also since we in general don’t walk as much and thus don’t get the exercise our bodies need to stay healthy. Even the brief walk to the bus stop, train station, or school, for many people has been replaced by a much shorter walk to the car and then onwards on four wheels.

There has never been any doubt in my mind that exercise is good for us all, but in this life of four-wheel transport, it’s hard to get the right amount of it to stay healthy. Although I am also guilty of using my car too much, I have tried quite a few exercise routines and I think it has made a positive difference. I also believe in the power of laughter, and that always seems to go hand in hand with my exercise attempts.

My very first memory was playing badminton, which I loved since playing tennis was out of the question. I couldn’t keep control of the heavier tennis racket and hit the tennis ball. However, the laughter came when I developed a serious bruise on my arm that wouldn’t go away. After several trips to the doctor, we discovered that my badminton racket hitting my arm when I reached to hit the shuttlecock caused the bruising! Much laughter ensued.

Another memory is of my first adult exercise class where in the first session we were instructed to hold on to the bar on the wall (like a ballet bar) and lean out for a good stretch. The bar came off the wall and we all ended in a heap on the floor. Of course, we laughed and telling the tale makes the listeners laugh some more. It was and continues to be a good venture for all.

At 38 I took up ballet lessons for the first time in an adult class. I absolutely loved it, and although I had to give up the lessons a couple of years later, it still makes me smile when I think of my wild leaps and pirouettes across the dance floor, not in a lovely tutu, but a long t-shirt that at my age was much more modest, although a little less elegant. I wish I had those pirouettes on film!

I could write several more pages on many more escapades, but the two exercises I love the most now are walking and yoga. Walking gets me out in the fresh air and beautiful places like our local parks and challenges many parts of my body, like my legs, my back, and my feet. Yoga works on my entire body, my mind, and my balance. Both can still produce lots of laughter though. I tried a yoga class in Switzerland taught only in German. I don’t speak German! I looked like a beached whale one time when the whole class returned to a standing pose after a floor pose, and I hadn’t understood what the instructor was saying. OK, laugh; I did and the memory will bring a smile to my face ever after:)

Where am I leading with this? Please, I invite you to just get out of your car and exercise, stay healthy, and, yes, laugh as much as you can in the process!