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Catherine of Croydon

Nature, exercise, activity & wellbeing

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Edited by Catherine Pestano, Tuesday, 9 Nov 2021, 13:33

This blog touches on my knee and back injury, depression and menopause. In a positive way!

As a large, relatively lazy person, this area has been of increasing interest to me as I move through mid life and seek to avoid some of the worst difficulties I see potentially lying ahead. 

Post-operative knee rehabilitation led to me attending a local exercise referral type scheme to encourage reluctant exercisers. I became their poster girl for a while! I found the Nordic walking provision very helpful as it reduces pressure on the back neck and knee joints by 30%. My industrial injury from age 22 finally released its hold on my mobility and my back pain ceased to be an issue. Almost unbelievable for me.  It became a passion and I trained as a L2 Fitness instructor (Nordic Walking). I was able to help establish a group for older people who had difficulty joining in with a faster longer class. I was able to fundraise for the training and continuation of the service through the local Age UK (Sutton). I also helped establish the Crystal Palace branch of Silverfit for the over 45sand delivered Nordic walking there and later in the Addiscombe park branch also. This charity offers exercise as a way to reduce adult isolation. 

Alongside this, and interested in both physical and mental wellbeing,  I started using a trampoline for the first time and found it a very good type of exercise for someone who is large and unfit. It was joyful and also seemed to have a mentally strengthening aspect, almost a paradoxical opportunity for challenging thinking. I experienced the unexpected the growth of courage alongside a love of this form of exercise. I am slowly working through the Winstrada grades keeping it as as safe as possible but also pushing myself a bit.  I travel 1.5 hours each way to my sessions, early in the morning and on public transport. I trained as an instructor and worked with many disabled children and adults. I then went on to manage a service for a year+, for profoundly disabled adults, for whom there is very little joyful or fun provision in the community post 18 and post schooling.

Now that I am in the menopause transition I am interested in the many ways that diverse forms of outdoor and indoor activity can support people with the multiple mental, emotional and physical challenges of this transition. Very precious to me is my circle dance group locally, which features some traditional and many contemporary choreographies of an easy and accessible type. I find that the easier they are, the more helpful, calming and uplifting I find these. I am exploring circle dance, pilates, Chi Kung, yoga and, during the pandemic, online provision of dance and yoga. I am interested in collaborating with others interested in this area and have a small research project that is open to all. Here is a Walking on Air podcast that I did on Nordic walking for menopause:  https://www.buzzsprout.com/1726065/9134932 

I can be contacted at Catherine.pestano [at] open.ac.uk

I am in the process of writing up my activities above in relation to exercise during menopause and in later life, trampolining, Nordic walking work with Silverfit and Age UK, and circle dance.

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