For Baby Boomers, Gradual, Varied Exercise is the Best Prescription
Posted by Jenn F. on Monday, March 23rd, 2015
Perhaps one of the most impressive qualities of the Baby Boomer Generation is their refusal to “grow old.” We’re not talking about the 6.7 million Americans who got Botox last year, or the more than $114 billion spent on anti-aging products. No, we’re talking about how boomers 50 and older are actually one of the fastest-growing age groups participating in U.S. marathons. The number of finishers nearly tripled to 92,200 (18% of the total runners) from 1991 to 2011, according to the Wall Street Journal. While research shows marathon running is perfectly safe for aging bodies, you’ll want to make these important considerations before jumping in head-first with your new exercise regimen.
Start gradually with cross-training.
People tend to go full-throttle when starting a new fitness program to “make up for lost time.” The old Nike adage “No pain, no gain” seems permanently ingrained in our minds. Yet, doctors know that, for many clients, pain can mean no gain–and several weeks spent hurting with every step. To prevent injuries, Tufts sports medicine expert Christopher Geary told The Boston Globe boomers should start out with low-impact exercises: stationary biking, stepping machines, elliptical trainers, or swimming. In other words: cross-train. Aim for 30-40 minutes of low-impact activities three days a week and work your way up to 45 minutes or an hour. When adding in strength training, do no more than three sets of each weight, with 8-12 repetitions.
Run moderately most of the time.
Researchers from Denmark believe that you can add six years onto your life by running between one and 2.5 hours per week over 2-3 sessions at a comfortable pace. Longer periods of vigorous activity can put too much strain on the heart, causing it to stretch, tear, and scar. To train for that coveted marathon, run at moderate intensity for 30 to 50 minutes at a time. Run in and celebrate those occasional marathons, but they then recommend you return to more moderate levels of training.
Don’t forget to walk.
Former Olympian Jeff Galloway says that his run-walk-run system helps prevent the crippling leg and foot pain that marathon runners can often suffer. He advises running no longer than 28 or 29 miles, taking the extra-long run extra-slow. Take walk breaks every mile to reduce fatigue, he says–and walking after every 1-3 minutes of running will improve speed. “The label of ‘marathoner’ has, from the beginning, been awarded to those who went the distance under their own power, whether they ran, walked, crawled or tiptoed,” he famously quipped in his book, Marathon! “When you cross that finish line, you’ve entered an elite group. About one-tenth of one percent of the population has done it. Don’t let anyone take that great achievement away from you.” At age 67, Jeff still completes a marathon every month, so there must be some truth in what he says!
See a specialist.
The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine specializes in the treatment and prevention of long distance running foot and ankle injuries. If you have nagging aches and pains that have persisted more than a couple of days after your last workout, we can help by:
– Taking diagnostic imaging and conducting a physical exam to look for evidence of damage.
– Instructing you on the best methods for resting, icing, compressing, elevating, taping, and stretching your feet.
– Immediately alleviating pain with cortisone shots, biopuncture treatment, or pain laser therapy.
– Advising you on products that could help your condition.
– Immobilizing acute injuries with a walking boot or cast.
– Correcting severe structural issues through surgery.
– Guiding you through physical therapy sessions for an active recovery.
– Speeding healing time with the use of platelet rich plasma injections.
If you are worried about re-injury or wish to do everything possible to ensure a long, active running career, we can help by:
– Performing gait analysis to assess biomechanical anomalies that could lead to injury over time.
– Fitting you with custom orthotics.
– Discussing the ideal shoe choices for your unique feet.
– Testing your sports fitness and guiding you through a beginner’s training program.
Our board-certified podiatrists take a holistic approach to wellness and find the root cause of your pain before recommending treatment. We offer the latest advancements in the sports medicine industry at both of our NYC locations in Manhattan and White Plains. Dr. Josef J. Geldwert and Dr. Ryan Minara have served as official podiatrists for big events like the NYC Tri and Hamptons Marathon year after year, and coached marathon and Olympic runners to remain in peak condition. Schedule your appointment with the pros in foot pain relief and prevention today.
If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine. Dr. Josef J. Geldwert, Dr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.