Queen’s fitness routine involves weight training with a crown
Although you’d be hard pressed to find the word coaching in any biography of the queen. She’s never lifted a dumbbell, hopped on an elliptical trainer, tracked her heart rate, or done anything that looks like a squat, lunge, crunch, press, or curl in a gym environment. The only real “weight training” Elizabeth has ever undergone was done out of royal necessity. Insisting on wearing the traditional (and heavily heavy) St. Edward’s crown for her coronation in 1953, Elizabeth had rehearsed for weeks before, marching around the palace wearing the nearly five-pound jewel-encrusted crown, preparing her neck muscles for the big event. Palace kitchen workers compare it to carrying two bags of sugar on your head. It is an upper-body exercise that is repeated every year at the official opening of Parliament, when she usually dons an even heavier crown and walks up to her throne under the velvet state robe of 15 lbs. But the queen does not want to repeat the effort more than necessary. She doesn’t see anything pleasant about being painfully “bloated,” as she calls it, immensely preferring a calm walk instead.
The Queen “believes very much in reasonable exercise,” explains biographer Ingrid Seward, noting that aside from gentle gallops on her horses and a few occasional country sports, walking has been the only constant source of physical activity in her. life. When she is at Buckingham Palace, every afternoon around 2:30 p.m., she goes for a long walk in the gardens with her corgis. In the countryside, at Balmoral or Sandringham, she will still crisscross the moors and woods a little. But nothing designates these times as being particularly sporty in nature. There are no fancy sneakers or quick arm movements to speak of. Elizabeth just walks naturally, with an âintentionally measured and deliberate demeanor,â to quote her longtime dress designer Norman Hartnell. She might wear wellies and a cane if she’s feeling particularly adventurous. But little else is involved in the exercise like a queen.
It might be easier to accept if Elizabeth confessed to hiding a high-intensity cardio trainer in the palace attic. Prince Philip’s longevity, after all, is so much easier to explain due to his more traditional (read “rigorous”) approach to fitness. But although it’s almost universally accepted as a fact, research has never supported the phrase “sweat more, stretch more, live long.”
On the contrary, studies of lifestyles in blue areas of the world (where lifespans are the longest) show a surprising reversal in typical gym behaviors. While America’s “healthiest” souls beat their joints, muscles, tendons, and heart feverishly a few times a week, people in the blue zones show a marked preference for more moderate activity.
On the Italian island of Sardinia, longevity researcher Dan Buettner noticed that the people most likely to reach their 100th birthday were those who walked and moved more each day, not necessarily more vigorously. Shepherds tending to their flocks, slowly roaming the Sardinian hills on foot, were more likely to become centenarians, more than farmers of the same population (people are more likely to damage and inflame their joints by more arduous work). The discovery led Buettner to abandon the exercise mania of modern gyms in favor of “more regular, low-intensity physical exertion” of the type traditionally adopted in the Blue Zones: “the type of exercise that the rest of” between us should do â.
Elizabeth grew up believing that there was little difference between being playfully active and being in good physical shape, a mindset largely nurtured by her father, King George VI. Remembering his own boot camp style upbringing (and the physical rigors of Royal Naval College as a 13-year-old caddy, complete with cold baths and flogging), George VI wanted something different for his daughters though- loved. Namely, fun.