A drop of sweat fell from my brow and onto the case of my i-phone which was pumping out some Primal Scream into my ears. My lungs were on fire and my legs were feeling the burn. I grinned. I was at the peak of my effort on the exercise bike in my local gym. It felt good and I felt good.
I’m one of those sad cases that has always enjoyed exercise but as the years have progressed I have found myself more and more restricted to the confines of the gym or swimming pool to get it. What little talent I had at football, cricket and rugby has been whittled away by a lack of practise, opportunity and effort. Throw in the numerous injuries over 30 years of badly co-ordinated effort and I fear my sporting days are a distant memory. After a dislocated shoulder the last time I tried to play football a couple of years ago, I have hung up my boots when it comes to competitive sport.
I like being fit: it gives me more energy to do the things that I like doing, not least playing with my children. But there is a more serious driver in all this for me.
Two days before my seventh birthday, my father dropped dead of a massive heart attack. He left his family in dire straits and never saw his son grow up. I am determined to do whatever I can to stave off and minimise the risks I have inherited in my genes: I want to see my children grow up and I want to be able to run around with my grandkids.
But there is an even more pressing reason for me to want to stay fit, healthy and active as long as I possibly can: my son. Arun has very complex disabilities and it is unlikely that he will ever be able to lead an independent life. He will always need support and help and I am determined that I will be there to provide it for him as long as I possibly can. Once my health and the health of my wife fail, he will be cast adrift. He will either be a huge burden on his sister (and she must have the opportunity to live her own life) or be dependent upon a fast withering state.
I reflected on all this as I saw the calorie counter on the bike tick over to 456 as I completed my exercise. I felt the endorphin rush and felt good about myself. I was doing the right thing for me and my family.
I glanced at my watch as I jumped into the car. “Yikes!” I thought. I had 40 minutes to get home, shower, eat and get to my next meeting. I was absolutely famished after my workout and I had nothing to eat at home.
A few minutes later I pulled up to the speaker and wound down the window on my car.
“Can I take your order please sir?”
I shook my head at my own smug irony as I spoke into the microphone, “I’d like a cheeseburger and fries please.”
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