Some say that 50 is the new 30, but, was it that hard to get moving in the mornings at 30? Joints ache, muscles are stiff. These are the suffering signs of “Boomeritis,” a physical, seemingly falling-apart-at-the seams malady that afflicts those born between 1946 and 1964.
Today, Baby Boomers participate in sports and exercise much more than the generations that preceded them. Prior generations may have labored hard at their job, but, Baby Boomers ushered in the fitness craze of the 1970s and 1980s, adding fun to attaining a fit body. For more than four decades, these people have been physically active. We all want to be able to do at 45, what we could do at 25, and do at 65, what we could do at 45.
Ironically, decades of “fitness” can result in overuse and gradual wear and tear. Injuries that occur may include tendonitis, arthritis (wearing out of the cartilage of the joints), tendon tears and stress fractures. Muscle tissue decreases in elasticity and eventually forms scar tissue, causing stiffness.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that nearly 241,000 individuals, age 50 and older, sustained exercise and exercise equipment-related injuries in 2012. That figure accounts for those who sought treatment, not those who did not, nor those who treated themselves.
Injuries also may derive from playing “weekend warriors,” by exercising too much on Saturday and Sunday and paying for it until Wednesday.
The key to balance out a long life by staying active, and perhaps even increasing an exercise routine, is to find a healthy, preventative fitness plan. Listen to your body and never play through pain.
First, if you have any medical condition, check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program. Next follow these suggestions to stay healthy:
Warm up before physical activity. Leave the stretching for after the work out. Warm up differs from stretching. To get muscles moving and warmed up, stimulate your muscles by moving slowly. This will stretch them in a dynamic manner. After physical activity, stretch and hold the stretch for a longer period of time.
Devote at least 30 minutes of exercise each day, and avoid “weekend warrior” syndrome. A surge in physical activity on weekends doesn’t make up for couch potato relaxation during week days. Keep a steady routine of some kind of movement every day.
To avoid injuries and develop proper form, become proficient in the sports you love and participate in. Take lessons from a professional, even if you have been playing these sports for long periods of time.
If you perform a variety of athletic activities, ranging from aerobics to sports, consider purchasing cross-training shoes. Try on different brands with the socks you would be wearing and ensure the shoes should be properly fitted to the width of your foot. Soles should be flexible near the ball of the foot, provide cushioning and arch support. Never break-in new athletic shoes; they should be stable from the onset to your 50th hour wearing them. Higharched feet should be comfortable and well-supported during workouts; low-arched feet need greater support under the ball of the foot. Replace the shoes when you notice unevenly worn soles or the backs of the shoes appear to be broken down. Throw out shoes after 300 miles; if cross-training shoes, toss after more than 100 hours.
Cardio equipment wears out faster than other equipment. Mechanical and electrical components can wear out and must be repaired. Sturdy strength equipment takes longer to wear out. Moving parts can wear out faster, however, and should be replaced every 10-20 years.
Build up strength training and endurance training gradually. Obey the 10 percent rule by increasing your activity by 10 percent at a time.
Balance your activities. Focus on strength, flexibility and endurance/cardiovascular fitness. Practice a fitness program that includes weight training, stretching and some form of cardiovascular exercise.
Mix it up. Avoid injuries by varying exercises that target different muscle groups. The concept of “cross training” emphasizes the whole body work out, therefore, work on one muscle group one day; another muscle group another day.
Nutrition. Find a well-balanced diet that works for you. Healthy food is key to giving your body the energy and nutrients it needs to tolerate exercise and continue to feel fit.
Listen to your body. When pain persists or compromises your ability to perform, change your routine or seek medical assistance.
Physical fitness alone does not guarantee a life free of injuries, aches or pains. But, by following some of these principles, refining your program, learning the safest way to perform exercises, and adhering to medical and fitness experts’ advice, you may combat Boomeritis. The road ahead looks promising for good health. Stay tuned for fitness in the Golden Years.