We are 78 million Americans strong, we Baby Boomers born from 1946 to 1964. A legion of adults who are entering unchartered territory of graying hair and the onset of (gasp!) old age.
There are many of us who refuse to wind up dependent on pills and doctors for our health. Instead, opting to fight the fight with fitness. So, what do we need to wage the battle and win the war?
The National Athletic Trainers Association and the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons have turned their focus to preventing sports injuries in Baby Boomers who may be a little too zealous in their pursuits by starting a national public-service campaign encouraging Baby Boomers to stay active, with modifications.
So what do you need to know?
To avoid becoming one of the 166,000 people between the ages of forty-five and sixty-four who needed medical help for exercise and exercise equipment related injuries last year, the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons offers boomers these suggestions:
- Before starting any exercise program, have your doctor check that your heart and body are in good condition and make recommendations based on your age and fitness level.
- Stretch for three to five minutes to warm up at the start and end of each exercise session.
- Ballistic (moving) stretching is best to warm up once you have warmed up the muscles you can hold the movement in a static (unmoving) stretch. Static stretches should never be done when the muscles are cold as this can actually cause micro tears or strains in the muscle fibers.
For more information on stretching:
Example of ballistic stretches for upper body:
- Huggers (hug yourself and let arms come down to the sides and then re-hug)
- Pot stirrers (bend over slightly and using one arm at a time use your entire arm to make believe you are stirring up a giant pot of soup. Then do other arm.
- Shrugs: shug your shoulders up towards your ears and then let them drop down.
- Mock exercise: If you will be doing bicep curls, tricep extensions, shoulder raises, etc. do a few mock reps with no weight.
Example of ballistic stretches for lower body:
- Run, walk or jog in place for one minute
- Gentle Squats: Gently squat as if you were about to sit down and then get right back up.
- Quad Extensions: Hold on the back of a chair and bring your knee up towards your hip- extend your foot as though you were kicking a ball.
- Calf raise: Staying with the chair, rise up/down on your toes.
Once you are warmed up it is safe to hold the stretch in each major muscle group that you will be working. Also it is important to take time at the end of each workout to stretch as this get the lactic acid out of the muscles and helps the muscle recover and to prevent muscle soreness.
- On going moderate exercise is better, and less likely to cause injury, than overdoing it on weekends.
- Each week mix in cardio (such as walking, ) strength training with a weight that is hard to lift by the end of your ten to twelfth repetition and flexibility training such as yoga or tai chi.
- Introduce new exercises, gradually and take lessons when possible to learn proper form and technique.
You CAN do it! You just need to know how.