“Boomeritis” Rampant Among Older Adults

By: Jim Evans

Q:  I’ve been physically active most of my life, but lately I have experienced a series of nagging injuries – mostly from running – and all of my “couch potato” buddies are giving me a hard time.  They say I should just slow down and enjoy life and start acting my age (I’m 62).   When I look at all of the problems they have – high blood pressure, diabetes, heart problems, arthritis, etc. – I feel pretty good about myself, but I am beginning to wonder if maybe I should take their advice and slow down.  What do you think?

A:  You are probably suffering from the relatively new phenomenon known as “Boomeritis” – a term used by many orthopedic surgeons to describe the wave of exercise-related injuries among baby boomers.  But relax – it’s not fatal.

You are simply part of a growing number of baby boomers who have taken life by the tail by being more physically active in your later years. While running has been your particular physical outlet, others of your generation are engaged in cycling, swimming, skiing, hiking, powerlifting, and a host of other athletic endeavors.  The problem is that we are prone to more injuries as we grow older, and we don’t bounce back like we used to when we were younger and more resilient.

You remember the old tune “The Old Gray Mare, She Ain’t What She Used to Be, Ain’t What She Used to Be, …Many Long Years Ago?”  Well, it applies to old, gray stallions too, my friend.

The March issue of Mayo Clinic Women’s HealthSource addresses the roots of boomeritis and offers some helpful hints to help avoid it:

  • Doctor approval:  not to worry if you have already been physically active, but if you are just starting out, check with your doctor first to see if there is anything that might preclude what you are thinking about doing.
  • Warm-up:  get the blood flowing and warm up your muscles before kicking into high gear.
  • Stretch:  we’re not as flexible as we used to be, so take a few minutes to stretch out after exercising, while the muscles are still warm.
  • Cross train:  variety is the spice of life, so mix up your choice of exercises and physical activities.
  • Be consistent: “weekend warriors” can expect to pay the price, so spread your physical activity out in smaller doses during the week rather than trying to cram it all into the weekend.
  • Listen to your body:  you know when you are pushing too hard – don’t pretend that you don’t.
  • Don’t overdo it:  take it easy once in a while and don’t ask for trouble by trying to do more than you are ready for – work yourself into condition before taking the next step and take a day off to rest once in a while.

Just remember that whatever aches and pains you might be experiencing are better than the debilitating physical problems that your friends are suffering from not doing anything.  As Jack LaLanne famously preached for decades, “just keep moving.”

Jim Evans is a 49-year veteran of the health and fitness industry and General Manager of Verdure.  Readers can address their questions about health and fitness to jim@verdurefitness.com. 

About the author