Regular readers may recall that in August 2015, I was astonished by my ability to complete the Dalby Forest Go Ape course with my grandsons.

When I returned this year, I left the long, high course for my son and boys, while I took my granddaughter on the shorter, lower, Go Ape Junior. This time though, I wasn’t astonished when I completed it. I was shocked, even a little fearful. Why?

The muscle strength in my legs had noticeably deteriorated. When my son finished the long course, he wondered how I had managed to complete it at all. I wondered too, but didn’t tell him about the shock I felt now at finding the short course challenging.

I complete 10,000 steps around five times a week, but even so, some muscles have lost strength. My father walked regularly. Once a year around his birthday, he did a long walk along the same route, his benchmark walk.

He could feel how his body was managing the increasing years. I felt that I had been given a benchmark on the Go Ape course.

I had two options. To problem solve and do something or to ignore it, even denying that there was a problem at all. We are faced with those two options many times through our lives, particularly with problems of health, work, home, family and relationships. Fear can be arresting or motivating, as in ‘fight or flight’. If I didn’t do something soon, not only would my leg muscles deteriorate further, but doing something about it, would become more difficult. With a gym only a twenty minutes walk away and having the time to

go off peak, I had no excuse. I have now visited twice a week for three weeks, doing specific leg work for 40 minutes. I can already feel the difference, though it’s not my favourite pastime. I tell myself it’s short-term pain for long-term gain.

I have been given a timely reminder of ‘If you don’t use it, you lose it.’ Have you? Are you ignoring it or facing up to it?

Rita Leaman is a psychotherapist and writer who lives in North Yorkshire. As Alison R Russell, she is the author of Are You Chasing Rainbows?

She also writes a blog on emotional health: