I don’t want to be an NHS stat so I might have to take action like my dear Katie

PUBLISHED: 18:23 15 May 2019 | UPDATED: 18:23 15 May 2019

Getting fit!  David's 11-year-old granddaughter, Katie who took part in last weekend's Pretty Muddy Race for Life at the Showground

Getting fit! David's 11-year-old granddaughter, Katie who took part in last weekend's Pretty Muddy Race for Life at the Showground


David Clayton is feeling the pressure to get out there and exercise after watching his granddaughter and others take part in the Pretty Muddy Race for Life last weekend

Flicking through a national newspaper the other day, I spotted a headline - "Lazy Pensioners to cost the NHS £1.3bn." Statistically, I'm one of those. However, I'm still busy working and not, I hope, lazy. A "think tank" had concluded that inactivity among older people make them more susceptible to injuries and mental frailty. If they don't do more regular exercise (it was only suggesting 10 minutes a day three times a week) a staggering £1.3bn would land on the debit side of the stretched NHS balance sheet by 2030.

This prompted me to question my own fitness and I'm sort of weighing it up with a plus and minus column after three recent "incidents."

Firstly, I couldn't find Platform 2C at Sheffield railway station a few weeks back. I'd followed what I thought was a logical route over bridges and past a coffee kiosk, but frustratingly 2C eluded me just as my train, wherever it was, was three minutes from leaving for Manchester. I spotted a cleaner who I reasoned might know where 2C was because he may well have spruced it up recently. I was directed back from whence I'd just come with a left detour I hadn't spotted and yes, there was Platform 2C with a guard about to despatch my train. Whilst I hadn't actually broken into a run, I had walked vigorously. I jumped on with a huge sense of relief and noticed I was panting somewhat. In mitigation, I'd dragged a case and a bag with me. "I can still do it," I thought triumphantly, then took a good couple of train stops to regain my composure.

Secondly, I was off to run some training courses at Salford on the sixth floor of a BBC building and I won't use lifts. I know, it's illogical, but put it down to a combination of claustrophobia and I was at the top of the World Trade Centre two days before it tragically came down.

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That's something you don't forget.

I'd gone to New York with my son to see the sights as a post A-level treat. We had also joined an interminable queue to go to the top of the Empire State Building. Once at the front, I looked in the cramped lift - sorry, elevator - and sent my son up on his own with the video camera. So, the point being, as a "lift-phobic" person, I can do 12 flights of stairs up to a sixth floor out of necessity, when most other people don't, albeit with a stop at floor three to pull myself together.

I can also stride across the Yorkshire Dales, which I do regularly, involving many ups as well as downs. OK, so I factor in a pub halfway but that's alright, isn't it? I've been reassuring myself for some time now that, for my age, I'm fit enough, but am I kidding myself?

Then, this past weekend, I went to watch my granddaughter do the Pretty Muddy Race for Life at the showground. I was there to offer moral support to 11-year-old 
Katie and her team of schoolfriends, but I quickly began to feel inadequate as people of all ages and sizes lined up to run for fun, and more importantly, Cancer Research.

My guilt was slightly assuaged by the fact I'd sponsored her. She finished, having negotiated 5km and a lot of mud, proudly took her medal and looked like she'd had the time of her life, despite needing a jolly good hose-down. I was proud of her and ashamed of myself in equal proportions.

My own personal "think tank" is concluding I should do something. I've got a running machine and some weights in the spare room gathering dust. Every now and again I go and look at them. They look back wondering if I might start using them.

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