Everyone knows that eating nutritious foods and exercising regularly are keys to good health, but what some baby boomers may not realize is that there are several precautions they should take to ensure that they do not develop a condition known as boomeritis — bone and joint aches, other pains, injuries and ailments caused by excessive physical activity.
In 2008, more than 166,000 people between the ages of 45 and 64 visited emergency rooms, clinics and doctors’ offices to receive treatement for injuries they sustained from physical activity and excerise equipment, according to the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission.
“Basically, everyone is doing more physical activity to prolong their life,” said Dr. Aliuska Carmenate, a general medicine physician at the Addabbo Family Health Center with a background in geriatrics. “But if you don’t have supervision and you do too much, it can be dangerous. People come in with tendonitis, bursitis and arthritis.”
Carmenate says when patients have such conditions, she tries to determine if excessive exercise is the culprit. If so, she refers them to a physical therapist, who can both help them with their ailment and educate them on the appropriate level of activity for their age and health background.
The physician noted that for people over 65, a general rule of thumb is no more than 120 minutes per week of moderate exercise or no more than 75 minutes per week of intensive exercise. It is also important to devote some time to stretching and to take supplements including calcium and Vitamin D to ensure strong bones, which can also prevent injury.
Baby boomers who exercise regularly are less likely to experience depression, weight gain, diabetes, high blood pressure and sleep disturbances, according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, however, it is important for older adults to remember that their joints, tissues and muscles may not be as flexible as they used to be when they were younger.
The AAOS recommends checking with your doctor before beginning any exercise program; stretching before any workout; engaging in moderate exercise daily rather than heavy activity only on weekends; taking lessons to ensure the exercise is being done correctly; developing a balanced fitness program including both cardio and strength and flexibility training; and resting or discontinuing a routine when necessary.
“We are encountering an increase in an aging, but active population,” said Dr. Jeffrey Rosen, chairman of orthopedic surgery and rehabilitation at New York Hospital Queens. “People in their 60s, 70s and 80s are more active than they have been in the past and that’s a good thing, but there needs to be more education as far as what kind of activity they should and shouldn’t be doing.”
Rosen said boomeritis, a name coined in 1999 by Dr. Nicholas DiNubile, an orthopedic surgeon at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, affects individuals of both genders, but noted that men tend to do more strength training while women are more likely to take yoga classes, so their injuries may not be the same.
Rosen said he encounters baby boomers with stress fractures, ligament sprains and muscle and tendon strains. He added that as people age, with each decade that passes, it takes one’s body increasingly longer to recover from exercise, which breaks down muscle in order to rebuild it stronger.
Patients can become frustrated by the fact that they can no longer do the same things they did when they were younger, especially if they are using the fitness program to improve their health and lose weight, according to Rosen. But boomeritis can be avoided, he said, by consulting a physician before beginning a workout regimen, seeking medical attention when injured and learning to exercise properly from a coach, personal trainer or physical therapist.