Five ways baby boomers can stay healthy as they exercise

Published on Wed, Jun 19, 2013
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While it’s difficult to encapsulate the moods of the tens of millions of people born between 1946 and 1964, one thing has often been said about boomers – they share a determination to stay forever young.

Next to improving diet and shunning tobacco, nothing a person does increases life expectancy more than exercising, according to the National Institute on Aging. As such, many boomers are busy with their quest for immortality on the bike paths and exercise mats of America.

Exercise is great for body and mind, but it doesn’t come without risk, and an injury can derail a routine quickly.
Here are five ways boomers can ensure they’re staying safe and having fun with exercise:

Know your limitations: “Some baby boomers have never been in a gym before and may be intimated by it,” said Whatcom 

Physical Therapy gym manager Patty Vezzetti. “Trainers can help them ease into it.”

Working with a licensed trainer at first can give you the confidence you need to meet your goals. “Most personal trainers will give you an evaluation,” Vezzetti said. They can assess your strength, flexibility, balance and endurance, and create a custom workout program accordingly. “Not everyone is interested in losing weight,” she said. “Some people just want to get stronger. Sitting down with a trainer at the beginning is good, because you can establish a baseline, discuss health concerns and learn how to use the equipment to prevent injury.” 

It’s important to remember to not increase the intensity of physical activity too quickly, especially if you have existing cardiovascular, joint or muscle problems that could be aggravated as a result.

Try something new: New activities can keep you motivated and help you avoid over-working particular joints and muscles. Consider something totally different, such as pickleball, a fast-paced court sport combining elements of tennis, badminton and table tennis. Northwest Parks and Recreation, District 2 hosts sessions Mondays and Fridays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Birch Bay Activity Center at 7511 Gemini Road. It’s open to all ages with a $2 drop-in fee.

Take control: Whether gardening, golfing or dancing, it’s inevitable that physical activity will create occasional muscle pain, stiffness, swelling and bruising. Pain can be immobilizing and depressing, so managing it is important.

“Avoid medications that mask pain coming from strained or damaged tissues,” says Jyl Steinback, author of Superfoods: Cook Your Way to Health. “Instead, consider a homeopathic medicine that works naturally with the body to help it heal and won’t interfere with other medications you’re taking. I bring it with me whenever I exercise.”

Spice rack resources: Turmeric, ginger and cayenne pepper all have anti-inflammatory properties, as well as many other health benefits. Stick to your good-for-you, energy-boosting diet by giving your bland foods a low-calorie kick with spices, roots and herbs.

Boost your metabolism: As we age, our metabolisms tend to slow down. 

Avoid compounding this with stress or fatty, heavy meals. To maintain a healthy weight and avoid insulin spikes or hypoglycemia, try eating small, balanced meals six times a day, rather than three big ones. 

Eating at the same time each day in a relaxed and convivial atmosphere speeds up digestion and makes energy more readily available.

Recharge at night: You’ll need your shuteye with your new active lifestyle. Luckily, exercise can contribute to longer, deeper sleep, helping replenish and rebuild every cell in the body. This goes beyond beauty sleep. Great sleep can aid longevity.

Don’t let potential aches and pains stop you from exercising regularly. The sooner you start moving, the better you’ll look and feel. With a few tricks, you can exercise more safely and pain-free.