Slap on the moisturiser and salute the sun.
“Stretch and moisturise daily; you’re managing decline now”. These words were delivered to me more than a decade ago by an elderly friend called John. At the time I was about 30, he was coming up to 70. “It’s all about how well you manage that decline that counts,” he added. “So keep stretching and look after your skin.”
John was about to head off on his annual holiday to the Pyrenees in France when we had our skin and hamstrings discussion. He was leaving a week before his wife as he liked to cycle there. He was clearly managing decline extremely well. “I cycle to Dover, take the ferry to Calais and as long as I can manage about 120 miles a day I can usually get there in about a week,” he explained. “I camp every night and wherever I am I’ll perform about an hour of yoga to make sure my body is ready for the following day.”
I wish I’d listened. Last week, I attempted to cycle the entire East Anglian coastline from King’s Lynn in Norfolk to Harwich in Essex. On a glorious sunny day I managed 120 miles before stopping at a campsite on the first night. I did a few stretches and followed this with a few pints and a pile of scampi and chips in the campsite bar while being entertained by increasingly drunken people singing karaoke.
If I’d listened to John I would have been stretching daily and applying skin cream for more than a decade now. Instead, I started yoga when my back began screaming out with pain a couple of years ago. I’m playing catch-up, and not managing it particularly well. I woke the following morning feeling like my body had been pumped full of cement. I managed a paltry 20 miles to Lowestoft and took the train home. Pathetic. I wondered what John would think of me now. We’ve lost touch, unfortunately, but I imagine he’s still cycling through Europe, managing hundreds of miles day after day and stretching into various yoga poses outside his tent every night, covered in gleaming, youthful skin.
So heed the advice before it’s too late: slap on the moisturiser and salute the sun.