I’ve never been a fan of exercise. I don’t suit Lycra, sweat just standing still and don’t like any activity that you can’t do and smoke a cigarette at the same time.

There’s also the whole business of how it taps into my teenage memories of draughty sports halls, hideous PE kits and the barking, homophobic bully of a teacher we had. I once went to look round a gym and had to have a lay down on the sofa afterwards. I didn’t like the testosterone fuelled grunting and the grim determination but the vending machine looked fine to me. They didn’t seem to have a reading area or a kiosk selling cigarettes and Cosmopolitans, though, which was a major negative.

I’ve always thought that I could get away without exercise. I walk for miles. I am thin as a rake and am generally creakily healthy. I’ve been getting these badgering letters for the past year, at least once every couple of months. Apparently, as I’m over 40, I need a health check. My discomfiture at being frequently reminded that I’m over 40 is immense.

Stupidly, I succumbed and am have now been told that I’m fat on the inside. I have moderately high blood pressure, high cholesterol and am carrying a 10 to 20% risk of developing heart disease in the next 10 years. I feel so much better for that. Although I have the BMI of a jogger, I have the blood of a slightly obese man who watches a lot of daytime television.

I protested, naturally. I’m a vegetarian who eats about 15 of my 5 a day. I walk a lot and although I have a penchant for a sugary latte and the odd cream cake, my diet is pretty good. The nurse countered back by pointing out that the main problem was the part of the cholesterol which indicates that I’m not getting enough exercise.

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She helpfully suggested that I try swimming (near drowning in 2001, municipal baths, memories of verruca socks: Big Fat NO!), cycling (aside from the fact I can’t balance well enough to ride one, there’s all that mangling type death stuff on the roads to consider: even fatter NO), a gym (Just NO!) and jogging (…live to 90 but with agonisingly painful knees: NO!). Apparently all of these things also need to be done 5 times a week for 30 minutes. Now that’s fanatical, if you ask me. I have a job and a lot of theatre to see.

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Naturally, I have a plan. It involves an exercise. I’ll walk up to the counter of Costa Coffee in a brisk manner and very quickly say “A skinny latte please” and without breaking out a sweat, I’ll pour in 2 sachets of sugar instead of the usual 3. I think that should help. I’ll think about the exercise next year and in the meantime I’ll briskly turn the pages of a novel. That should sort it all out.

About the author: Chris Bridges
Chris is a theatre and book obsessed Midlander who escaped to London. He's usually to be found slumped in a seat in a darkened auditorium.

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