I can remember being on holiday in the South of France a few years ago and the whole family joining in a Joe Wicks fitness session by the pool. (Mad, I know in 30°!). I have to explain that this was a few years ago, and before Joe Wicks became as famous as he is today; it was also before I began any sort of fitness regime. The most I ever did at the time was go for a run, and do I hang my head and admit that I never stretched out before or after my run.
Anyway, back to planking by the pool. To be fair I’d never even heard of Joe Wicks, but we all joined in a mad challenge to hold a plank.
(The photo above is me mid plank, by the way, sadly, in our living room this week and not by a pool in the warm sunshine of the South of France!)
I have to admit that I was totally useless at this full body exercise on that hot sunny day. There was no way I could hold my body in that position for more than a few seconds. So I quickly gave up on it and lay in the sun instead!
Fast forward a few of years and you have a shortly to be 63 year old woman who is now planking for two minutes; the longest period of time I’ve managed yet.
Why, might you ask?
Why put yourself through such an uncomfortable experience?
Well… I now know that planks are actually really are good for you: they target practically every muscle group in the body, which means that ultimately, they will make a body stronger, whatever the age. They strengthen the spine and help to keep it in line. They help to prevent us falling foul to injuries as we get older, because they strengthen our core, and a strong core will help us through almost every physical action and movement we carry out throughout the day.
And then, beside all the health benefits, to plank for increasing lengths of time is a great challenge! And challenges are good for our mental health! We should all set ourselves challenges, whether large or small. They keep us focussed, and in these uncertain times, they also give us something to aim for
So learning how to do and sustain a plank has to be a win, win.
I began by holding a plank for a few seconds, gradually progressing up to 30 seconds before I collapsed, and then came the day I made it for a minute.
But I didn’t stop there. I pushed on further until I could hold the position for two full minutes. Now that felt like an achievement!
Will I try for longer?
What do you think?
Of course, those in the know will be thinking ‘Yes, but what about a side-plank?’ Well, I can report that I’m now up to a one minute hold on either side and working on increasing it!
The point is, that whatever we choose to do, the challenge of a physical movement that we think is beyond us, is good for us.
Physical challenges develop help us not only to develop physical endurance as they strengthen our bodies, our muscles and our bones, they are also good for our mental health: they help to build resilience, self esteem and confidence.
That’s why they are worth it!
So why not set yourself a challenge this week!
Let me know how you go on!