The large increase or "boom" in the number of births during the post World War II era defined the generation of people known as baby boomers. By some accounts this puts baby boomers' age between 54-74 years young.
For the purpose of this blog post, let's define the BOOMERS as those older than 50. When it comes to fitness, some boomers think they are fragile and can only work on aerobic capacity. For example, walking on a treadmill or riding a bicycle.
The training they actually need is the same as athletes, busy professionals, and even children: a combination of mobility, power, strength, and endurance, modified to their abilities and limitations.
As a fitness professional, the best thing I can do for my BOOMER clients is to help prevent a future fall, not increase their time on a stationary bicycle. Every year, one out of three adults over the age of 65 experiences a fall. These falls often lead to injury or preventable death.
There are as many as 30,000 deaths due to falls from older adults every year. Other effects from falling can include disability, reduced quality of life, loss of independence, increased healthcare costs, and increased fear of doing daily activities.
If you are a BOOMER or know someone who is, how can you help prevent a fall? Here are some of the important risk factors and how to address them:
- Adequate mobility in the lower extremities, especially in the hip and ankle. There are many ways to improve mobility, but a great movement is learning the Getup. We call this a big bang for your buck exercise because not only does it require a certain amount of hip, ankle, and shoulder mobility to execute properly, but you get the added benefit of practicing getting up and down off the ground.
Check out our 6 part Getup Series to learn how to do a proper Kettlebell Getup! Here is the first video.
No need to add a weight just yet! Everyone starts this move with just body weight and have to earn the Kettlebell Getup. At Control Your Health, we have men and women in their 70s doing solid Getups. Some clients have even gotten emotional after completing a proper Getup for the first time.
- Muscular weakness, especially in the lower extremities. Get your hips, butt, and legs to work by squatting and hinging!
Here is part 1 of our Kettlebell Swing Series! Learn how to hinge.
- Balance deficits. The easiest way to test your balance is to stand on one leg. If you can last longer than 10 seconds, congratulations! If not, focus on balancing on two legs with some Rooting Exercises.
This is a good practice even if single-leg balancing is easy! At Control Your Health, we then progress many BOOMERS to power exercises like throwing, skipping, and agility drills if their joints allow it.
Studies show that power is one of the major performance variables associated with independence, fall prevention, and rehabilitation following injury. Since adults lose power (the ability to move fast) at a rate almost twice as fast as they lose strength, these exercises help re-establish the ability to move with speed.
Build strength and power with the Kettlebell Swing! Here is part 2 of our 5 part Kettlebell Swing Series! The Kettlebell Deadlift.
So when it comes to Fitness Training as a BOOMER, look for more of the sameness. The delivery system might vary. For example, things that may be a warmup for a younger athlete can become the power component for the baby boomer.
They just need to be challenged safely. I have personally seen how much boomers are capable of and have been lucky enough to see my 80 year old father-in-law at work. He spends most of his waking hours in what I can only call a moving frenzy.
Let's take today as an example. I have a 6:30 AM training session and a few minutes before 7:00, I see his van pull in to the parking lot. He jumps out and immediately starts moving trash cans, cleaning up fallen leaves, and watering plants. Next is a quick stop in the kitchen to get breakfast started.
While his oatmeal is cooking, he is back outside finishing up on yesterday's project; pulling out the roots of an old tree. It's now 7:05 AM and he's usually here until at least 6:00 PM. Now that is what I call FIT.
As we get older we stop skipping, jumping, throwing, and running and the result is a feeling of fragility. Start moving now, just do it as best you can. Think of it as going back to the playground.
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Need any help achieving your health and fitness goals? Please don’t hesitate to contact us!
Oscar and the Control Your Health Team
Control Your Health, Get FIT For LIFE