by Michelle Sutton-Kerchner
Sometimes, exercise turns into a personal competition. We push ourselves to work out better, more often, and harder. Challenges are necessary, but the effects of being overzealous can land you on the couch. Enjoy a healthier workout by following these fundamental principles …
Whether your body is in boomer years or not, it’s essential to consider the reasons behind your fitness program. The goal, at any age, should be to nurture your body with proper exercise and nutrition. You want to strengthen the body and mind, and create overall wellness. This can only be done when listening to your body and responding accordingly.
Boomeritis is a new term used to describe the growing need for injury therapies and joint replacements in older adults. As indicated in our “Booming Baby Boomers” series (F&W News, June 2011), the fastest growing segment of the fitness population consists of individuals over 50 years old. Incorrect guidance, or an inability to recognize limitations that may develop with age, can lead to a frustrating or abandoned fitness program.
Know Who You Are Today
Even the most avid athlete who has been physically active since Little League needs to appreciate that all things change with time. What you could pull off as the high school quarterback likely varies from your abilities in later decades. Baby boomers aren’t the only population affected by this shift. People as young as 30, 40, and 50 should be aware of the best exercise methods for their body’s evolving structure.
Match your mentality to your physical being. Exercising at the same level you did over the past ten years isn’t wise and can be dangerous. Of course, you shouldn’t wimp-out. Simply be aware of your physical being. Quiet the competitive voice trying to make a comeback on team I-Can-Still-Do-That. There are many benchwarmers in that league.
Most find they can continue to perform the same exercises as when they were younger. However, they reduce the amount of time spent on them. Stamina tends to decrease. (After all, what adult has a kid’s energy level?) Don’t push yourself to continue with the umpteenth rep. Tackle another type of exercise instead. This small tweak gives tired muscles a chance to recover, thereby preventing overuse strains. Cross-training like this also helps you continue the overall exercise session for the same duration but with a fresh focus.
Let a personal trainer advise you on the best exercise methods for your needs. A successful cross-training program might include an aquatic workout, time with weights, and a specific cardio routine (perhaps a Group Fitness class). Small breaks in between are often welcome. They provide an opportunity to recover and rebuild energy so you can continue to exercise effectively. This is true at any age.
Set Healthy Priorities
Usually, Center members are focused on wellness. They indicate time spent at the Center can be productive because it’s not a “vanity gym.” The majority of Center membership has the fitness goal of a healthier lifestyle. Improved physical appearance is an added bonus.
It’s important to keep perspective, regardless of age. We are given one body in which to reside, with all its perfections and imperfections. It’s not about having what you want, but wanting what you have. Be happy with yourself and work to improve. Recognize you may not go from size XXL to petite, today or ever. The important accomplishment is making that size– large or small– your healthiest.
Some discover their healthiest self arrives after youth has dimmed. A new glow shines from the inside out as time allows more dedication to exercise, nutrition, and personal fulfillment. As children get older and career paths are somewhat paved, today’s adult is excited to focus on the self. Rather than “letting oneself go” in this more comfortable stage of life, there is a movement to get healthier. Many members report being their healthiest ever in later years.
Older generations are amazed at what they can accomplish in their 60s and beyond. These accomplishments often challenge the expectations of age-related health issues. Perhaps some of these health issues onset from a mentality (“I’m too old to start an exercise program.”). Then, avoidance of physical activity is what actually triggers so-called age-related aches and kinks, rather than the body’s capabilities.
For those in a successful fitness program, a diligent workout is about a sense of happiness and satisfaction. It’s about increasing their years and the quality of them. This radiates with a more youthful appearance, regardless of what birthday you’re celebrating. Anything else can be accomplished with a bottle of hair dye and a will to experiment.
Keep your priorities on health and remind yourself of them often. With health as your goal, you decrease the risk of injury. You are listening to your body and responding with what it needs on any given day. Your exercises, activities, and diet remain appropriate for you. Life evolves naturally to suit where you are. Don’t fight it. Embrace it.
And Then There Is Rest
Experts advise everyone take rest periods. As we age, this, too, may need adjustment. The body doesn’t recover as quickly. The process of rejuvenating takes a little longer. Schedule times of physical and mental rest into your fitness program. They don’t have to be sedentary, although days off are necessary.
Try a gentle fitness class or do a lighter, shorter version of your regular routine. Try a different form of exercise during this “rest time” to prevent muscle stress and strain. The goal is to feel good every day through exercise’s benefits, not in stressful spurts that can lead to knee replacements. Alternate your workout’s intensity and the form it takes. Boomeritis is triggered in those who struggle with this. Need ideas? Check the Group Fitness schedule on the Center’s Web site or speak with a personal trainer.
A deserved rest is not a sign of age-related fatigue. It’s smart and healthy.
Just Do It– Right
There are approximately 80 million boomers in the United States. They are emerging in tsunamis in the fitness world. Congrats to this admirable group who is the first to stay active in later years. Revolutionizing the lifestyle of mature adults is essential. As a society, we are living longer and striving to make the most of those extra years. What you do– and don’t do– affects how you live, today and next year.
As with any “revolution,” there is an expected backlash: boomeritis. Before you charge onto the Exercise Floor or Group Fitness scene, remember you are only as old as you feel. Don’t accelerate the age you feel with an exercise program that focuses on the wrong priorities. Modify your workout for who you are this moment. Even 20-year-olds don’t feel chipper when enduring aches, pains, and strains. Treat yourself the way you deserve. Do it right. You’ve earned it. And, your body will repay you.
“Avoiding Boomeritis,” by Paige Waehner at www.about.com.
“‘Boomeritis’: A Condition that May Impact You,” by Lisa Daniels at www.msnbc.com.
Senior Power (man with weights): © Diomedes66 at www.dreamstime.com.
Exercising in park: www.monkeybusinessimages at www.dreamstime.com.
Man on treadmill: www.monkeybusinessimages at www.dreamstime.com.
Multi-generation workout: www.monkeybusinessimages at www.dreamstime.com.