REAL Woman Wednesday: Fitness 50s Style Pt. 1

My legs and butt are firmer than they have been in years. Have I joined the gym? Yes, and only used it once (remind me to cancel). The secret is something much simpler than that though. There are four flights of stairs at Cookie Monster’s house…yes, I said FOUR. And PanKwake is on the top floor. While I do not think I have started to lose weight yet, toning and firming muscles is a step in the right direction.

But that makes a good point…exercise does not have to take place in the gym nor does it need to take huge quantities of time from your day. In fact, there were few gyms at all in the 50s and most of those were strictly the domain of men.

Yet ‘morbid obesity’ was unheard of. Sure the women were rounder, curvier. Most of the REAL 50s homemakers that I grew up with were size 10 to 14. Of course as always they came in all shapes and sizes. Aunt Mildred was so tiny that if she had not sewn her own dresses, she would have been forced to buy from the little girl’s racks. I tried to think of even one who was larger than a size 16…and honestly I cannot. These women who were ageing and of course beginning to spread still were smaller than most of us today.


What was their secret? I think it comes down to three things.

  1. Portion size
  2. Processed/fast food
  3. Walking

Over the next few weeks, I will kick off this new and improved REAL Woman Wednesday by looking at each of those. But today I begin with walking…

Do you know what this is?


I am not going to give the brand name, but it is techie device that tracks how many steps you take each day. And honestly…that ain’t a bad thing.

I have loads of friends who post their results regularly to Facebook. It even comes with an option to network so you can compare your results with friends.

But of course such a thing was unimaginable to these women. Still they managed to get more exercise, stay fit and slimmer without gadgets or gyms.


One way is hidden steps that gadgets have replaced. Think about it for a moment…

  • Change the television channel. Eight to ten steps there and just as many back. Do that two or three times a night and you may get close to 100 steps.
  • Answering the phone. When was the last time that you actually had to get up to answer the phone? It is used to be on the wall in the kitchen or a table in the hall. Each time someone called you had to get up and walk to answer it. Now we carry our phones with us.
  • Housework. How many of us hang our laundry out on the line? Wash our own dishes? Vacuum…daily? Mop?

Those things taken together can add up to a thousand steps or more…per day.

But by and away the largest difference was simply how they viewed walking. It was simply the first choice.

  • If you needed to get the mail…you walked to the post office.
  • If you needed a carton of milk…you walked to the corner store.
  • If you wanted to ask your friend something, more often than not you did not call on the phone…you walked down the street and spoke face-to-face.

Most radically of all…

The Constitutional!

All right so I was raised in the deep South and we just called it ‘a walk’ but I am borrowing from my time here in the UK. But long before there were treadmills, jogging or power walking, it was common to go out for a stroll after dinner. It was not even as much about losing weight or exercise as it was getting some fresh air, stretching your legs and helping your dinner to digest.

It was also of course a chance to catch up with friends and neighbors long before Facebook, texts and Skype. Nanny had arthritis so until I was old enough to be trusted to go for a walk on my own, we simply sat on the front porch, waved and chatted with everyone.

So before you spend (waste?) all that money on gym membership, how about taking a look at which of these 50s style exercises you might be able to add to your life?

Cookie Monster and I have decided that in addition to his weekly ten-mile walk (yeah, this girl can’t do that shit!) we are bringing back the constitutional. With a twist…after breakfast instead of dinner since this works better for his schedule…oh and PanKwake too.



3 thoughts on “REAL Woman Wednesday: Fitness 50s Style Pt. 1

  1. Lol the 50s. The best ERA to ever hit the USA. Wish I was born then. Such a simpler and the most beautiful time to be alive.

    1. I was certainly privileged to have witnessed the respectful and loving relationships of several working class REAL 50s couples. I hope that this new take on my blog can communicate the beauty of that.

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