Banged Up and Bruised Boomers
Tip of the Iceberg continued...
In the Consumer Product Safety report, bicycle riding was the
most common activity to send baby boomers (66,100 of them) to the ER.
Basketball was the second most common culprit (48,230 treated); unspecified
forms of exercise and running came in third (32,370); and skiing, fourth
(28,150). The data, though, don't include any statistics about tendinitis in
the shoulders and arthritis in the knees, conditions that DiNubile believes may
be even more common. These problems are generally the result of years of wear
and tear on the body. Or of overuse -- that is, simply doing the same thing
over and over again until the body finally objects. (A swimmer's simple act of
slicing her arm through water day after day is a perfect example).
By drawing attention to injuries among baby boomers, the AAOS
isn't trying to dissuade people from exercising. Quite the opposite -- the
group advises boomers to stay active because being sedentary is much more of a
health risk than injury from exercise. Yet middle-aged bodies aren't as
resilient as they used to be; by encouraging boomers to acknowledge this, the
AAOS also hopes to get them to start exercising more safely.
How can you avoid being sidelined by injury? Here are some
important steps DiNubile recommends:
Make sure your fitness regimen includes a balance of
cardiovascular activity, strength training, and flexibility exercises. "The
better condition you're in, the less likely you are to get injured," says
DiNubile. And if you haven't been exercising for quite some time, it's a good
idea to get your doctor's approval before starting up again.
Spice Up Your Life
By mixing up your game plan -- say, walking three days a week,
then rounding out the week with stationary cycling and rowing machine workouts
-- you'll give muscles a rest that might otherwise be subject to overuse.
Stretch Early and Often
While there isn't much research to definitively show that
stretching keeps injury at bay, many experts are convinced that it helps.
"Tight muscles are susceptible to injury," says DiNubile, "and
since muscle tissue decreases in elasticity and develops scar tissue with age,
older muscles are even more vulnerable."
It's important, though, to stretch only when the muscles have
been warmed up. So save flexibility exercises for the end of your aerobic
workouts, or do them only after five to 10 minutes of activity vigorous enough
to make you break a sweat. Running in place or walking several blocks should do