Baby Boomers: Exercising Just Got Easier for You!
Pilates teacher training Sydney develop a course to share their knowledge to the next generation. Even if you are an extreme couch potato, born and raised by Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head, even you have already heard about all the health benefits a person can gain from exercising and staying fit. So it’s pretty safe to assume that all Baby Boomers hear it, see it and read everyday about how exercising can help prevent a multitude of ailments, diseases, conditions, afflictions, disabilities, infirmities, disorders and syndromes associated with aging, or just plain breathing. There are also a few little-known benefits from exercising that many of us have never heard, seen or read about. These include how working out makes us happier, improves our vision and dental health, increases our productivity at work, helps us to sleep more soundly, boosts our mental clarity, memory and concentration, and my personal favorite — improves our vocabulary. Who knew that exercising could be so… propitious! That’s a fancy word for “good” that I just learned. See, even writing about exercising has improved my vocabulary. How cool is that?
And speaking of “cool,” Baby Boomers have always been cool, and now true to form, we’re making it cool to grow old! We became a generational phenomenon that made us all cool simply for being a part of the 78 million babies born after WWII between 1946-1964. And now, a half century later, the fact that health club memberships for Baby Boomers have increased 380% in recent years is one of the signs that Boomers would rather stay cool than appear to be growing old. It appears that many of us are taking heed to what we’ve been hearing, seeing and reading about when it comes to the benefits of exercising, or the disastrous consequences of not exercising and/or allowing our butts to become one with our sofas. Even the Boomers who have been slim and trim all their lives and never gave a hoot about fitness and exercising are starting to get with the game plan. Gone are their days of being able to eat whatever their skinny little butts wanted without gaining an ounce. The last time many of them stood naked in front of a mirror, even they could see their not-so-skinny-anymore butts without having to turn around. Unfortunately, the only thing many Boomers have now that’s slim, is a slim chance of ever being skinny again.
Even so, everywhere you go these days, you’ll see Boomers being far more active than their parents and grandparents ever were. Tons of Boomers actually feel that they’re in better physical condition now than they were in their 20s, 30s, and 40s, and a bunch of them even feel they’re in better shape now than their 20, 30 and 40-year-old children. Because so many of us are feeling our oats, we have no intention of slowing down and we continue to exercise with the same intensity and gusto as we did in our youth.
Beware of Boomeritis!
Countless Baby Boomers are working so hard in their pursuit of having better health, better quality of life and longer productive lives, that the chances are good they will succeed in their quest. Said pursuit, however, comes with risks — risks that increase significantly as our bodies continue to age. Said risks increase substantially more as many of us continue to deny the fact that our bodies have passed their prime — it’s all a part of Generation Boomer’s unwavering determination to not get old. In other words, regardless of what we’re determined to accomplish or acknowledge, it ain’t cool to keep over exerting our over-the-hill bodies.
According to the CDC, over 2 and a half million Baby Boomers end up in the emergency room every year with injuries due to over exercising. Ouch! The doctors have started calling it “Boomeritis” — a variety of musculoskeletal ailments and injuries that occur usually in active individuals around the age of 40, 50 or 60. Sports and exercise related injuries have become the most frequent reason — behind the common cold — that Baby Boomers visit doctors these days. In the past century, medical science and technology may have extended our life span, but because evolution moves at a much slower pace, we have not yet extended the warranty on our aging bodies. Make no bones about it, my Boomer buddies, our bones are beginning to get brittle and our muscle mass could soon be a thing of the past.
Take it Easy!
What’s a Boomer to do? Answer: Chill out and take it easy! The “move it or lose it” and “just do it” attitudes are still perfectly good policies to live by — they just need to be toned down a bit so that we don’t over do it. Studies show that low to moderate-intensity activities provide all the health benefits Baby Boomers need. You don’t have to train for the Olympics to optimize your health. Even if you don’t normally work out and you want to start an exercise program, it’s still a great idea to get a move on. The only thing worse than too much exercise is too little, and experts say it’s never too late to start benefiting from working out no matter how old we are or what physical condition we’re in. Even a 90-year-old can start a workout regime and receive far more health benefits than he would if he just sat around wondering how many new liver spots he’ll have by the end of the day. Gramps just needs to remember that he has to engage in an age appropriate exercise routine that takes into consideration how frail and brittle his bones have become.
Just like the elderly — and let’s face it, Baby Boomers are in training to become elderly — we must remember to engage in age appropriate exercising. Even if we’re striving to be the best at being elderly so that our bones don’t become as frail and brittle as a typical 90-year-old, they will certainly start to feel that way very soon if we continue to engage in the joint-jarring activities like aerobics, running and kickboxing that our generation helped to make so popular. Don’t let a trip to the ER be what forces you to realize you need to make the switch to gentler, lower-impact, easier-on-the-bones workouts.
A Goal Properly Set is Halfway Reached
If you happen to be a Boomer who has been working out for many years and you’re still working toward a goal of acquiring those 6-pack abs or still working toward fitting into that size 6 dress, chances are you haven’t been consistently engaged in all the rigorous and vigorous working out that’s required to reach those goals. Some of us engage in an on-again, off-again exercise regime, or just on occasion — on the occasion of a class reunion coming up, on the occasion of a New Year’s resolution. Either way, you too are at risk and more prone now to soreness, stiffness and injuries. And just so you know, the experts are finding that at our age, it takes a lot more time and effort just to maintain our current physical condition, with little hope of losing much junk from our trunk or ever gaining the rock-hard abs of our dreams. Don’t give up hope though because remember, we are Generation Boomer! We are rarely bound by rules of man or nature, and if we find that we are, we change the rules! We’ve already changed the rules about working harder — we work smarter. The smart thing to do about exercising is to set fitness goals that are actually attainable.
Especially for Boomers who are just starting out or are returning from decades of an exercise regime that is on-3-weeks, off-3-years — start by setting a simple goal of just showing up! Seventy percent of success in life is showing up, so show up at the health club, show up in front of your treadmill, show up anyplace other than on your sofa or at a Dairy Queen and you’re off to a good start. First goal accomplished!
Next, set a goal to work out at least 20-30 minutes a day for 3-5 days a week. This is a little harder to accomplish than just showing up, but a whole lot easier than setting a goal to lose 30 pounds in 30 days, bench press twice your weight, or to lose 5 inches off your flabby arms by Tuesday. Be careful setting deadlines as well. Setting reasonable deadlines is sensible, but if your motivation is based on a determination to see instant results, that’s a surefire goal buster. Remember, exercising is a journey, not a destination and nothing good is going to happen immediately with the snap of your finger. At our age, you’re move liable to snap, crackle and pop — snap something in your neck, crackle something in your knee and pop something out of where it’s supposed to be! That’s why it’s so very important to warm up and stretch cold muscles before each workout so you’ll be less prone to injuries. In fact, if you’re just starting out or returning to a routine, the very first thing you probably need to do for a while before each work out is to spend some time stretching and warming up before you start… stretching and warming up.
Gain a No-Pain Philosophy
Staying with the old “no pain, no gain” philosophy could easily end up being the bane of your existence, so it would behoove you to remove that ideology entirely from your workout plan. Pain is a warning sign so try to control your impulse to power through it. If it feels like you’re straining, you probably are, so it’s best you lighten up before you end up laid up.
One new exercise strategy that has been working well for Baby Boomers is pretty simple — I’ll paraphrase here… Use an exercise campaign that isn’t insane or too much of a strain, but easy to maintain without becoming mundane! Studies confirm that people are more likely to stick with a less grueling routine over the long haul. For a balanced exercise program, choose a low-impact, moderate workout plan that includes cardio (without forcing a coronary), plus strength or resistance training, and stretching. Get your heart pumping at least 30 minutes a day or for three mini bouts of activity like a quick walk, a few squats or some lunges or crunches. Doing three 10-minute bursts of exercise each day is just as beneficial for weight loss, heart health and maintaining lean muscle as a single 30-minute workout. Vary your program to avoid muscle overuse, and don’t forget to include some core and balance training which will help strengthen your abs, reduce backaches, increase flexibility and reduce sprains and falls.
Change the Rules and Make it Cool to Exercise
Previous generations followed the rules of nature which dictated that once you reached a certain age, you were supposed to stop being active, stop being cool, and start shopping for rocking chairs. Baby Boomers have changed the rules — we may be aging, but we refuse to get old until we’re good and ready to do it on our terms.
Sticking to a regular exercise regime, however, can be extremely difficult when you’re constantly plagued by pain from soreness and injuries. Even sticking to an easier regime that’s injury free and has lightweight goals can still be a struggle, especially when there are so very many excuses waiting in the wings of our minds, ready to pounce on any given day — I can’t possibly exercise today because I have a headache, toothache, hang nail, bruised ear lobe. Not to worry, my Boomer brothers and sisters, here are some tips from the experts and other Boomers to help you persevere in the face of frustration and discouragement. Try some of these ideas to help lighten up or liven up your routine, whichever you’re in need of. Use some of these to make it cool to get your exercise groove on — they’ll help to motivate and inspire you and hopefully make exercising something you… dare I say… look forward to doing. And remember: Use an exercise campaign that isn’t insane or too much of a strain, but easy to maintain without becoming mundane!
- Make variety the spice of your workouts and mix things up by taking a low-impact exercise class like Pilates or Yoga 2 days a week.
- Play your way through a workout in a basketball game with your buddies or tennis with your teenager.
- Get up, get down and get funky on a knee-friendly Elliptical — a cross between a stair climber and a cross-country ski machine. Elliptical Trainers have become very popular and are also perfect for an in-home workout area now that so many Boomers are empty-nesters and looking for ideas on what to do with all that extra space.
- Shake your groove thang with Aqua Zumba which is lower impact than regular Zumba and has a cool “pool party” atmosphere.
- Experience the invigorating, therapeutic and healing benefits of water walking and water running.
- Hang loose, sit back and relax the stress on your back, all while getting a great workout on a Recumbent Bike. These bikes have become popular with Boomers for in-home exercising because they’re comfortable (even when you push hard), have almost no risk of injury, and are great in the comfort of your home to use while watching your favorite TV programs or catching up on your reading.
- Bust a move and burn a bunch of calories with Video Exercise Games by Wii or PlayStation.
- Pump up the volume and liven up your workout by listening to music — it helps to boost your endurance and makes any routine more enjoyable.
- Boogie-oogie-oogie with an Exercise DVD where workouts range from low-impact to high energy. Forget your mom’s copy of Richard Simmon’s Dancing to the Oldies and get with something cool like salsa, belly dancing, hip hop or pole dancing (yes, as in stripper pole)!
- Beat boredom by listening to Audio Books that can get you so involved in a good plot that you lose all track of time and find you’ve been at it for 2 hours when your goal was 20 minutes.
Always finish up by cooling down after a workout — this is just as important for avoiding soreness and injuries as warming up is. Stretching, gentle movements and deep breathing done together will help return your heart rate, blood circulation and respiration to normal and help muscles to recover from the workout.
We all know that exercise should be only a part of your overall fitness plan. “Eat less and move more” are also wise words to live by. Dieting works well for many Baby Boomers, but some new research actually shows it can cause more harm than good for a few others. Ergo, your best bet should be to keep it simple — eat less of the bad stuff (salt, added sugar, fats and fast foods) and more of the good stuff (fruits, veggies, wholegrains and seafoods).
The Cool Rewards You Get to Reap
One of the best things about accomplishing goals are the rewards that follow. Reward yourself every now and then for sticking to your routine by getting a massage or a pedicure. Show up at Dairy Queen with little or no guilt and treat yourself to a nice, sweet prize, just not so much where it’ll show up on your thighs. Sticking to your program yields other rewards that can’t be ignored… you’ll look better, feel better and feel healthier… you’ll have more energy and stamina… you’ll be preventing and/or delaying all sorts of diseases, conditions and afflictions… you’ll feel happier and more relaxed… and let’s now forget how much you’ll be ameliorating (aka “improving”) your vocabulary.
Baby Boomers are not only known for being the “coolest” generation, we’re also known for always bringing a distinctively youthful flavor to practically everything we do, and you can bet we will continue to nurture and cherish that attribute through midlife and into old age. The rewards that Baby Boomers receive from staying physically fit will go a long way in allowing us to set and reach goals to live very long and very active lifestyles well into our 80s and 90s. And if evolution ever catches up with technology, we will continue to age even beyond that, but we will never truly get old… we’d rather stay cool.
Rita Beck just recently launched her encore career as a writer specializing in Baby Boomer trends — cool, unusual and inspiring trends in particular. Her website, The Boomer Bunch ( [http://www.theboomerbunch.com] ), takes a light-hearted look at how many Baby Boomers are making it cool to grow old! Rita’s articles are always flavored with humor and wit, and her primary goal is not just to inform, but to uplift her readers and entertain them as well. More info about Pilates class.