Baby Boomers: Tips on How to Exercise Safely

As the weather gets warmer, people often get motivated to spend more time outdoors. Whether it’s working on projects around the house, playing with the grandkids at the park or out exercising, it’s important for baby boomers to remember their bodies are not as young as they used to be and not overdo it.

In 2008, more than 166,000 people between the ages of 45 and 64 were treated in emergency rooms, clinics and doctors’ offices for injuries related to exercise and exercise equipment, according to the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission.

Baby boomers have become increasingly active as they age and orthopaedic surgeons think this trend will continue. One thing to keep in mind is that when you are 50, you may injure your body more easily than when you were 20. Joints, tissues and muscles may not be as flexible as they used to be. So as boomers age, they should take extra steps to protect themselves from injuries when exercising. A little extra stretching before and after exercise, for example, goes a long way.
Here are a few tips to help boomers prevent exercise-related injuries:

  • Check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program. A physician will make sure your heart is in good condition and can make recommendations based on your current fitness level. This is especially important if you have had a previous injury.
  • Always warm up and stretch before exercising. Cold muscles are more likely to get injured, so warm up with some light exercise for at least three to five minutes.
  • Avoid being a “weekend warrior.” Moderate exercise every day is healthier and less likely to result in injury than heavy activity only on weekends.
  • Do not be afraid to take lessons. An instructor can help ensure you are using the proper form, which can prevent overuse injuries such as tendonitis and stress fractures.
  • Develop a balanced fitness program. Incorporate cardio, strength training and flexibility training to get a total body workout and prevent overuse injuries. Also, make sure to introduce new exercises gradually, so you do not take on too much at once.
  • Take calcium and Vitamin D supplements daily.
  • Listen to your body. As you age, you may not be able to do some of the activities that you did years ago. Pay attention to your body’s needs and abilities, and modify your workout accordingly.
  • Remember to rest and schedule regular days off from exercise and rest when tired.

Baby boomers who exercise regularly are less likely to experience depression, weight gain, diabetes, high blood pressure and sleep disturbances, so it’s important to incorporate physical activity into your routine at any age.

Dr. Terrell Joseph is a physician with Vail-Summit Orthopaedics and specializes in hand surgery and sports medicine.

Bicycling Safety Tips

From paved bike paths to mountain biking single track, Summit County offers a wide array of bicycling opportunities. But as more and more of us travel the open roads on our bicycles for fun, transportation and fitness, the number of injuries caused by unsafe cycling continues to rise.

More than 1.3 million people are treated for bicycle-related injuries each year.  As orthopaedic surgeons, we treat many of these injuries. The most common cycling accidents involve colliding with a car or another bicycle; loss of control; entangling hands, feet or clothing in the bicycle; or feet slipping off the pedals.
So whether you are an avid rider or a first time cycler, it’s a good idea for bicyclists of all ages to remember these important safety precautions:

  • Always wear an American National Standards Institute (ANSI) approved helmet.
    • Make sure it fits snugly but comfortably and does not obstruct vision.
    • It should have a chin strap and buckles that stay securely fastened.
    • Studies have shown that wearing a bicycle helmet can reduce head injuries by 85 to 88 percent.
  • Make certain the bicycle is the proper size for the rider. Appropriately sized frames, handlebar and seat heights, as well as understanding of gear systems, help reduce fractures or sprains.
  • Consider wearing knee, wrist and elbow pads to protect bones and joints when falling.
  • If you fall off a bicycle, maneuver yourself as far away from other danger like moving traffic.
  • Proper supervision of younger riders at all times. It is recommended that younger children ride only in enclosed areas.
  • Wear bright fluorescent colors and avoid biking at night. If biking at night, make sure to have rear reflectors and a working headlight visible from 500 feet away.
  • Avoid plastic pedals, which can be slippery when wet and cause your feet to stray off the pedal.
  • Stay alert and watch for obstacles.
  • Consider using training wheels for young and first-time riders.
  • Ride in the direction of traffic and be aware of surrounding traffic. Obey all rules of the road; bicycles are vehicles, too.
  • Do not ride double, attempt stunts or go too fast.
  • Avoid loose clothing and wear appropriate footwear. Use pant leg clips to keep clothing grease-free and out of the bicycle chain.
  • Avoid riding on uneven or slippery surfaces. All types of brakes may not work as well when wheels are wet and require more distance to stop.
  • Drinking enough fluids, stretching and scheduling routine activity can help avoid injuries related to overuse.
  • Ensure the bicycle is properly adjusted for your height and well-maintained. Replace broken or missing parts.

Dr. Greg Poulter joined Vail • Summit Orthopaedics in the summer of 2008. He provides complete spine care for both children and adults, offering the most current minimally-invasive and fusion-sparing techniques.