It isn’t always easy trying to keep fit, stay healthy and still have a full time job. In this series, we want to share with you the challenges and triumphs we face on our journey to better health.

Welcome to part 4 of Get active with

Read part 1 here.

Find part 2 here. 

Part 3 is here.

Tell us how you stay active in the comments below!

Once upon a time, I was a girl jock.

I represented my university in five sports, and played two others. I could throw a softball as straight as an arrow over 40m, run circles around the opposing netball team, and jump through a row of defenders to score goals in handball.

And then I was struck with an ailment. It slows down movement, saps energy, and at times, causes bodily aches. The scientific name for this condition is senescence. We know it commonly as “getting older”.

My competitive sports days over, I got into other physical activities that kept me fit but didn’t rely on athleticism and the desire to win.

I took up American rhythm tap dancing for its aesthetic value, but have gained an enjoyable workout from it.

Performed at high intensity, tap is a great cardiovascular exercise. A piece of choreography often has a burst of quick steps alternating with intervals of slower movements – just like interval training.

Doing countless drills to improve technique is sometimes tiresome, but it helps to think of the calories burnt, not to mention toning and strengthening those big lower body muscles.

There is the misapprehension that tap is bad for the joints. Sounds are made not by indiscriminately banging feet on the floor, but with proper technique. With my Pilates training (that’s the other form of exercise that I took up seriously), I use core strength which prevents pressure on any one part of the body.

I can see myself tapping into my old age, certainly to slower rhythms but still with a lot of style (hopefully!) and moving enough to keep everything in working order. I try to throw a softball today and I’d probably dislocate a shoulder. – Jane F. Ragavan

Running away my problems. For S. Indramalar, running accords her a sense of freedom and a chance to leave her worries miles away.

Running away my problems. For S. Indramalar, running accords her a sense of freedom and a chance to leave her worries miles away.

Last year, I ran my first full marathon. Sure, it took me what seemed like a lifetime to complete the race (six hours to run 42km – not something I’d boast about!), but the sense of achievement I felt when I reached the finish line was second to none. I was tired and in pain but I just could not stop smiling.

I love to run. Well, sometimes mid-way through a long run when my legs are beginning to feel tired, I ask myself what I’m trying to achieve. Then I remember what I love about running.

When I’m running, I feel weightless. I feel like I haven’t a worry in the world. All I’m thinking of is the rhythm of my feet hitting the tarmac and sometimes, the beat of the music that’s streaming through my iPod.

Sometimes it does get monotonous but I keep myself on my toes by imagining I am in a race – I’d spot a group of runners ahead of me in the distance and then I’d try and catch up to them in stealth mode. If I manage to pass them, I do a mental victory dance (about 30 seconds long, maybe?) and then seek my next target.

A bit crazy? Yeah, I’ve been told.

I also do Pilates to work on my flexibility, posture and core and I do strength and conditioning workouts. This began six years ago with Kettlebell training and bodyweight exercises which improved my stamina and strength somewhat. But about a year ago, I decided to try something I’d never thought I’d do: strength training aka training with weights – barbells and dumbbells.

I joined a strength and conditioning facility near where I live and the coaches there take me through a series of workouts that challenge every centimetre of my body.

But as the adage goes: no pain, no gain right? And although I think I’ve felt more pain than I’ve experienced gains, I am stronger than I’ve ever been in my life and I’m so pleased.

All I want is to get stronger. My goals have changed. All my life, all I’ve ever wanted was to be skinny. Now, all I want is to be strong and lean.

My arms are bigger than they were a year ago but they have some definition. Also, I think if anyone tried to mess with me now, I could kick their a** somewhat. And if that doesn’t work, I’ll run! – S. Indramalar