Battling BoomeritisBy:Jamie Arnold
As the baby boomer generation grows closer to being an exclusively 50-and-older club, an increasing proportion of the population is experiencing chronic pain problems. Aging bones and muscles, subject to decades of sports and fitness trends, are more and more frequently displaying signs of “Boomeritis.”
Though not strictly a medical term, Boomeritis has become a commonplace phrase in the medical and fitness communities. It refers to the collective effects that aging has had on the body that are relatively unique to the baby boomer generation. The American lifestyle, standard of living, and life expectancy have changed so dramatically since the first boomers were born in the late 1940s, they’re really the first generation to widely display these features.
Most people who exhibit Boomeritis are amateur athletes, and have been for many years. They caught on early as fitness and outdoor activity became trendy from the 70’s through the current day. As they grew to adulthood with jobs and children, they became “weekend warriors.” They jogged, biked, played golf, taught their kids how to play soccer, joined the office softball team, and more in their off time.
Though this weekend-focused activity was certainly better than none, it contributed heavily to stiffness, joint problems, and other Boomeritis symptoms. The human body is poorly suited to this occasional, heavy exertion; especially once you start creeping up over 40. Over time it takes a toll on your joints, ligaments, and skeletal system.
The good news, if you’re an aging boomer who loves being active, is that the best solution for Boomeritis is more exercise; not less. You just have to be smarter about it:
- Try exercising moderately several times throughout the week for an hour or two, rather than just on the weekends for an entire day.
- Plan for plenty of time to warm up and stretch. This only becomes more important the more mature you get. Someone in their 50s should be aiming for at least 30 minutes of combined warm-ups and stretches before heavily exerting themselves.
- Diversify your activities. You should be getting in all sorts of exercises that give your entire body a balanced workout. Find activities that increase your endurance (jogging) and strength (weightlifting). Do exercises that are high-impact (short sprints) and low-impact (swimming). Enhance your flexibility and balance with some activities (yoga) and your coordination and reaction times with others (basketball).
Though Boomeritis might seem like a curse, boomers should instead wear it like a badge of honor. After all, it means that they’re living the longest, most physically active lives in American history. If you’re a member of this generation and suffering from chronic aches and pains, consider consulting a doctor and physical trainer for further advice.