Are you one of the many people who relax by exercising, whether via a solitary activity like running or cycling, or maybe involvement in a group sport? I’m sure you come back glowing, with all those endorphins whizzing around your body.
Sadly, that sort of exercise gives me no pleasure and neither does it give me an endorphin buzz. But what I have discovered – even though it’s taken me many years to come to this conclusion – is that I like to do housework: in particular, I like to iron.
That statement might be thought politically incorrect, but I don’t care. Who says we are obliged to pay a fortune for a gym subscription and a second fortune to have someone clean our home? I have now given up the gym subscription because I just didn’t use it enough and am looked at aghast by family and friends when they try to talk to me about exercise.
There is an assumption that, since I am now partly retired, I should nip off at midday for a quick sweat-making, heart-thumping, pelvic floor-grinding experience. That’s not for me. Instead, I take a huge pile of family washing and turn it into very satisfyingly ordered flat square shapes, removing creases that should not be there and adding them where they should be. I have even resorted to ironing the husband’s boxer shorts.
The best background noise is a good play on the radio or the soothing tones of BBC Radio 4. Trying to watch television is OK but can be difficult if the programme is in a foreign language with subtitles. Look down for a particularly difficult crease and you’ve lost the plot. My technique is to stand at the ironing board, which has a heavy padded cover, and use one of these marvellous new steam irons where the water sits is in a separate container. It’s an incredibly expensive piece of kit but state of the art. It rivals anything you’ll find in a gym and worth so much more to me than four months’ club membership.
In addition to miles of shirts hanging on hangers and all the linen beautifully ironed into pleasing shapes, I also like the house to be clean and tidy. This rule does not apply to what is on the other side of cupboard doors. If I can’t see it, then it can be as higgledy piggledy as the owner likes.
I maintain that cleaning a large house on several floors is as good as any other serious exercise. Try lugging a vacuum cleaner up and down stairs while holding a bag of cleaning materials: that’s my weights and aerobic workout. Scrubbing, dusting and polishing keeps me supple, and the gleaming house at the end gets my endorphins whizzing.
I haven’t really come across anyone else who shares my view and, while I might be a social misfit, my family do love climbing into a bed with freshly ironed sheets. Nothing nicer!