“Boomeritis” is a term coined to describe workplace injuries commonly experienced by baby boomer women (and men) who are striving to maintain an active lifestyle. It highlights the importance of taking care of our aging bodies to prevent injury. Dr. DiNubile, an orthopedic surgeon, introduced this term as a contrast to the previous generation’s approach to activity as they aged. While our parents often halted physical activity when their bodies ached, today’s seniors understand the vital role of staying active in achieving a long and healthy life. Nevertheless, we must approach exercise intelligently, as many injury cases are seen in orthopedic and physical therapy offices among weekend warriors.
As our bodies age, the most common injuries tend to occur in the shoulders, knees, and ankles, involving sprains (tearing or stretching of ligaments) or strains (tearing or stretching of muscles or tendons). Tendons and ligaments lose some of their elasticity with age, as does the flexibility in our joints. We also experience a decrease in muscle mass, which contributes to a weakening of our tissues. Consequently, our posture, strength, balance, flexibility, and endurance are all affected.
To maintain our well-being and prevent injuries, especially as women, here are some key recommendations from organizations like the AAOS (American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons) and the AOSSM (American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine):
- Consult Your Physician: Before embarking on any fitness program, undergo a medical screening and discuss your exercise plans with your doctor, especially if you are making significant changes.
- Warm-Up Properly: Always warm up your muscles before exercise to reduce the risk of injury. Engage in gentle jogging or walking and perform static stretches for the muscles you’ll be using, holding each stretch for about 30 seconds without bouncing.
- Diversify Your Exercise Routine: Avoid overusing the same muscles by incorporating cross-training into your fitness regimen. Don’t rely solely on one sport; include cardiovascular activities, strength training, and flexibility exercises for a well-rounded workout.
- Seek Professional Guidance: If you’re new to a particular sport or exercise, consider taking lessons or training sessions from qualified instructors to learn proper techniques and reduce the risk of injury.
- Use the Right Equipment: Ensure you have the appropriate sports gear or equipment for your chosen activity, such as proper sports shoes or a well-fitted helmet, as needed.
- Gradual Progression: Avoid introducing new exercises too rapidly or increasing the intensity too quickly, as this can lead to injury. Slow and steady progress is key to preventing injuries.
- Follow the 10% Rule: When increasing your level of activity, do so in increments of 10% to avoid straining your body. This rule applies to both cardiovascular exercise and strength training.
Incorporating exercise into your daily routine is crucial, and there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to fitness. Your fitness plan should be tailored to your needs, and exercises focusing on posture, strength, balance, flexibility, and endurance benefit individuals of all ages. Staying active not only maintains but also enhances your capabilities in these five fitness areas, contributing to a healthier and more fulfilling life as you age.