The truth is — my clothes weren’t fitting, and I refused to buy bigger ones. I even noticed being short of breath from time to time when doing simple things like laundry. Something needed to change. April seemed as good a time as any, and so I chose to take some action.
My eighty-one-year-old father wakes up around 5:30 each morning and does a whole routine of calisthenics, and I mean seven days a week. Weekdays he still works full-time, and knowing him, I’m betting on some major overtime. He’s the picture of health. I’ve asked about the particulars of his workout, and he has told me. I would’ve needed to write it down to remember. It’s a lot, but I know he exercises in sets.
On the first day of April, I decided to come up with a routine of my own. I wanted to keep it simple and doable. Situps, pushups, and squats. “I can do that,” I said to myself. I had a plan. I started with ten situps, ten pushups, and twenty squats. Each day, I would add five. After the first Sunday in April, I decided to take Sundays off. On another day, I decided I would quit adding five when I reached one hundred repetitions. Modifications are sometimes necessary. Progress is progress. By April 14, 2021, I was up to seventy situps and pushups and eighty squats. The squats were not a problem. The push-ups were harder. And the sit-ups were f-ing ridiculous. I broke them down into sets. If it took me all damn day, I would do them.
But, I sort of hated my life mid-situp and needed some motivation. You know what I did? I Googled the benefits, and Healthline.com gave me nine great reasons to just keep going:
- Core strength. By strengthening, tightening, and toning your core, you reduce your risk of back pain and injuries.
- Improved muscle mass. According to research from 2016, older women who were able to do situps were less likely to have sarcopenia, which is the natural loss of muscle due to aging. Women who were able to do more than 10 situps had higher levels of muscle mass and function.
- Athletic performance. A strong core gives you proper posture, stability, and form, allowing you to perform at higher levels during any sport or physical activity.
- Better balance and stability. A strong core helps to keep your body balanced and stable. It helps your pelvis, lower back, and hip muscles to work together with your abdominal muscles.
- Increased flexibility. Situps make your hips and back more flexible, which increases mobility and relieves tension and tightness. Increased flexibility improves circulation and concentration, reduces stress, and boosts energy levels.
- Improved posture. A solid core improves posture, and good posture includes less pain and tension, increased energy levels, and improved breathing.
- Reduced risk of back pain and injury. Situps also build strength in the lower back, hips, and pelvis, making injury less likely.
- Diaphragm strengthening. Situps cause compression of the abdomen, which can have a positive effect on your diaphragm. A strong, healthy diaphragm can improve your breathing patterns, alleviate stress, and enhance athletic endurance.
- Academic Achievement. Studies link high fitness levels to high academic achievement levels.
On Monday the 19th, I reached one hundred squats, and yesterday, I reached one hundred situps and pushups. I must admit — I feel stronger, my shape is slowly morphing, and my lower back pain (of the past few years) has improved. Benefits aside, I’m not sure 100 situps a day is sustainable. April is proving I can do anything one month at a time. When May rolls around, I may reassess.