The Audacity of Hops

Oh, brother. I may  have to cut out my incessant reading about the latest trends about people of a certain age staying fit. Either that or go completely bananas.

First, I stumbled across an article that said you need to jolt your body all over the place — running or hopping, for crying out loud — in The New York Times. I immediately rejected the running advice, since running makes me extremely unhappy, and who needs that kind of dismal stress?

But — hopping? “Women between 25 and 50 who hopped at least 10 times twice a day,” the article said helpfully, “with 30 seconds between each hop, significantly increased their hipbone density after four months. Another group of subjects, who hopped 20 times daily, showed even greater gains.”

Sure, I wasn’t between the ages of 25 and 50, but let’s not get technical. Could hopping be the answer? I used to hop a lot, it seemed to me. But not lately. I didn’t seem to have been in the mood for hopping for years. Or decades, come to think of it.

So, I did what I usually do when I’m faced by a dilemma: I went around talking about it for hours and asking my friends’ advice.

“You know — hopping is very big these days,” I said to my friend, Carol.

She’d read the same article. But she had her doubts. “They’re talking about hopping up and down 15 inches,” she said. “That could be dangerous. You could end up in worse shape than when you started.”

I talked to some other friends. They didn’t seem to be very interested in high-impact exercise like hopping.

I would have mentioned it to other people, but by then, I’d run across another article about fitness. It said you should be able to go from a seated position on the floor to standing without using your hands or knees to help.

I tried it. I failed; I had to use one hand to get up. According to the article, that meant I was going to die next week or something.

“Can you get up from a sitting position on the floor without using your hands?” I asked my husband. He’s in great shape. He doesn’t hop, but he runs a lot.

“Of course I can,” he said. He dropped to the ground. He got up without using his hands but he did lean on a knee.

“You can’t do that,” I said. “That’s cheating. You can’t use your knees, either.”

“That’s stupid,” he said. “Who’s making up those rules?”

He sat back onto the floor. This time, he got up using a hand. “That’s the stupidest test I ever heard of,” he said. “What kind of idiot dreamed that up?”

“Oh — experts,” I said vaguely. “I thought you were in good shape. You should be able to do that.”

“Nobody could do that,” my husband said.

Our friend Suellen, who was standing nearby, said she could do it. No sweat. She sat on the ground, rocked upward, and staggered a few steps. It wasn’t pretty, but I think it counted.

“I’m a former gymnast,” she said. “That’s why I can do it.”

The next day, my husband announced he could do it, too. He sat on the floor, propelled himself forward, then up, and crashed back in my direction.

“You see?” he said. “I didn’t use a hand or a knee. I could have done it perfectly if the carpet wasn’t so slick.”

You couldn’t have done it if I hadn’t propped you up, I was thinking. But I didn’t say anything. I was tired of the floor-to-standing test. I was tired of the hopping, the running, the eternal nagging.

The next day, I promised myself, I’d find an article about how, if you were standing upright and breathing, you were doing pretty well. You might not live forever — but hey. Today was going to be just fine.

(Copyright 2014 by Ruth Pennebaker)

Read about A Very Fulsome Experience



12 comments… add one
  • This made me laugh. Needed that today. Thanks.

  • When in doubt, Ruth… PRANCERCIZE.

  • swp Link

    Actually the Times article says you can work up to jumping in about 6 months. Should you? There are also lots of obituaries for athletic people who go into cardiac arrest, like the 16 year old teen who died doing a half-marathon yesterday, or Charles Porter, 63, the acclaimed mountaineer. Between good health and death there are lots of grey areas. It is reasonable to assume if you never stress yourself, you are pressing your body to a new limit.

    The good reason for exercise is being able to do what you like. I want to bike across country with a women’s group and a support team before I die. I see lots of people my age tooling around Walmarts in motorized carts. I like being able to eat normal meals 3 times a day because I exercised (today I had cheerios and blueberries for breakfast). I hate paying someone 60$ and hour to do something I can do myself.

    The cost? One hour a day at the gym. Sometimes I injure myself. Its good to know your limits and not press them.

  • This story was very funny.

  • Marsha Canright Link

    Better happy than hoppy. That’s what I always say.

  • Craig Smith Link

    Given the noises I make just trying to get out of my chair I think I will pass on the hopping. At the very least it would require a sports bra to keep my Pam Anderson man boobs in check

  • Jenny M Link

    Thanks for the laugh, Ruth. I like the headline, too.
    Today I woke up dreaming about jumping on a trampoline, how much I love that, and how much it gives me a cardio workout. Now THAT I can do.
    And while I can’t get up from sitting on the floor w/o using a hand, if I push myself into a squatting position, with my knees fully bent and feet flat on the floor, I can get up just by pushing my feet into the floor and straightening my legs. Squatting is actually my preferred “sitting” position if a chair isn’t available.

  • merr Link

    Hopping! That’s a new one. There’s always a new one.

  • I don’t think you’d get very far with hopping – and I mean that both literally and figuratively!

  • that is a great title. your thoughts on hopping (not something I’ll take up, I think) caused me to remember that while I’ve always walked a lot, recent circumstances have found me not doing that. good for my spirit as well as my body — I often do some of my best writing while I’m walking, in fact. so, off out the door…

  • I’ve actually been into hopping and jumping for three years now. I do 2.5 to 3 minutes of high intensity jump rope (250 to 300 jumps) every morning. And then I bought an agility ladder which is a horizontal ladder you lay on the ground and hop between the rungs. Very fun.

  • Yeah, let’s just try and focus on getting through whatever day we’re on.

    Re hopping, we do a pose in yoga that requires a little hop. I’m more of a stepper myself. My yoga teacher is ok with that.

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