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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.