Boomer Bodies: Coping with the Changes

Boomer Bodies: Coping with the Changes

Preventing injuries as you age

By Dr. Eldon Hopkins, Collin County LIVING WELL Magazine

Seventy-nine million Americans who were born from 1946 to 1964 have changed the face of American culture, and time and age are starting to catch up with them.


The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS) has noted a significant increase in the number of overuse injuries in the baby boomer generation. In fact, the AAOS coined the term “boomeritis” to describe the growing number of sports injuries in this demographic. These injuries range from tendonitis to bursitis and arthritis. The suffix “-itis” refers to inflammation.

Baby boomers are staying more active and are racking up more injuries along the way. In 1998, they accounted for more than one million sports injuries. From 1991 to 1998, baby boomers experienced a 33% increase in sports injuries, which resulted in more than 365,000 hospital emergency room visits.

Preventing Injuries

Dr. Eldon Hopkins, an orthopedic surgeon on the medical staff at Centennial Medical Center, says that staying active doesn’t have to mean more injuries. Most injuries are related to overuse. If you’re getting older, you need to learn to listen to your body and learn ways to prevent injuries. He offers the following tips for staying injury free and active with an aging body:

  • If you haven’t been physically active, consult with your doctor before starting a new exercise routine.
  • Include stretching in your exercise routine to maintain joint flexibility. Once your muscles have warmed up, do some gentle stretching exercises.
  • Your exercise routine should include a mix of cardiovascular exercise, strength training and flexibility exercises.
  • Exercise doesn’t have to hurt. You may experience some muscle soreness but true pain is telling you something. Talk to your doctor, physical therapist or trainer if you are experiencing pain from an exercise.
  • Don’t try to add too much at one time. Work up toward your goal. If you want to be able to work out for 60 minutes a day and haven’t been physically active, start with a smaller goal such as 20 minutes a day for a week and then add 10% more the next week and so on until you reach your goal.
  • Invest in the right equipment. Wear a helmet for bicycling and buy good walking or running shoes that fit properly.
  • Add some variety to your routine. Walking on a treadmill day after day can get boring. Take your walk outside or go for a bike ride. Take up dancing or join a gym class.
  • Don’t overdo the weights. When starting a strength training program, start light. Go for lighter weights and gradually increase as the routine becomes easy. Remember the 10 percent rule for adding weights. If you were using a 2-pound free weight, don’t step up to a 10-pound weight the next week!

It’s never too late to start an exercise program that can help you age in a healthier manner. One study of wheelchair-bound nursing home residents who were in their 80s and 90s found that lifting light weights helped improve their strength and overall fitness level. So, lace up your walking shoes and start moving toward your fitness goals.

Article provided by Centennial Medical Center. For more information on staying healthy at any age, please visit their website at Centennial Medical Center is located at 12505 Lebanon Road, Frisco, Texas 75035.