Alice-Azania Jarvis: 'It's time to walk the walk and get into sitting-room aerobics'

In The Red

So! Lots of emails about last week's column – thank you. For those who missed it, I have been facing yet another exercise-related spending predicament. Basically, I've injured my back and have had to give up running and cycling as a result. In other words, all free forms of exercise.

Despite plenty of recommendations to go to a physio, I have to say I'm yet to be convinced. Surely a few weeks' rest will do the trick? True, I'm rather concerned about the way in which this will set back my marathon training but, surprise, surprise, not enough to want to part with £40. After all, for that amount, I could join a gym for a month.

Instead, I've come up with a two-part solution. The first, suggested by a friend who will, upon request, remain unnamed, is rather less dignified than the second. She has lent me her comprehensive collection of exercise DVDs.

This isn't, in truth, my first experiment with sitting-room aerobics. As part of my post-Christmas fitness drive I bought several best-sellers, none of which, I'm ashamed to say, have come to much use. The problem was that they were just so complicated. No sooner had I pressed play than I was hit with a barrage of fist-pumping music and complicated dance steps.

My friend, however, chose rather more wisely than me, sticking mainly to the TV presenter-turned- fitness guru genre that is geared, I suppose, at uncoordinated novices like myself. The result is considerably more satisfactory: the routines are manageable, they don't necessitate too much back-breaking moving and shaking, but they still feel like exercise. True, I look like a moron to those passers-by lucky enough to get a glimpse of my pre-work, half-asleep self punching the air – but that is a small price to pay.

The second part of my strategy is rather more sedate. It involves long, genteel walks with my iPod. They don't exactly get my pulse racing, but at least I know I'm getting some exercise – not to mention time to think. The trick, I find, to getting into the habit is to imagine myself as some Jane Austen-like heroine walking on the moor. This requires considerable imaginative skills when the real location is the chicken bone-strewn streets of Bethnal Green, but is rather helped by the presence of the Regent's Canal.

Neither form of exercise, it has to be said, provides quite the same satisfying sense of athleticism as running but, as they say, needs must. So if you feel like a bit of a giggle at half-six in the morning, why not head to east London? You might just catch sight of me pulling some shapes.

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