Let’s face it. Most of us have no intention of growing old gracefully. In fact, many of us lead, or plan to lead, an active lifestyle well into our 60s, 70s and 80s. Baby boomers (Americans born between 1945 and 1965) are the first generation that has strived to stay active, according to Nicholas A. DiNubile, a Philadelphia-area orthopedic surgeon, who coined the term "boomeritis" in 1999.
Depending on their level of activity, it’s not unusual to see younger baby boomers, active people in their 50s, develop muscle pulls and strains common in younger athletes. Shoulder and knee problems are some of the most common issues affecting baby boomers. There are new ways to treat wear-and-tear problems and preserve your activity level, but prevention is the best way to keep you on top of your game.
When should you be concerned about knee or hip discomfort? When your gait starts to be affected by pain, if you develop a limp, or if you have any other problem that curtails your normal activities, it’s time to talk to your primary care doctor, who may refer you to an orthopaedic specialist.
If your doctor tells you have early arthritis, you can stay active by switching to low-impact activities such as swimming, bicycling and elliptical machine workouts. These are preferred over high-impact activities like running.
If you enjoy group exercise classes, you can continue by simply modifying your movements. Most instructors will accommodate your needs and help you exercise effectively and without risking injury.
The deterioration of muscle, bone strength and agility might seem like a normal part of the aging process, but you can avoid boomeritis by exercising with a new awareness of your strengths in order to preserve your active lifestyle.