The Running Doctor: Baby Boomers turning more to exercise

The Baby Boomers are coming of age! These boomers are the 78 million people born between 1946 and 1964, which accounts for more than one-quarter of our country’s total population. Many are turning to exercise or some type of fitness training to improve their quality of life as they progress through their senior stage of life.

Cardiovascular types of exercise can show signs of improved fitness. As we age, arthritis plays a role with joint mobility and exercise. A great concern is osteoporosis (porous bone) which results from gradual loss of bone substance. Some loss of bone substance occurs naturally with aging in all individuals. While some men do develop osteoporosis, the numbers are far less than women. Usually most men who develop osteoporosis develop it at an old age.

With increased exercise, people are gaining the health benefits of joint mobility and pain reduction. But some baby boomers are jumping into their programs too quickly. The body has to adjust to these new forms of exercise. All exercises should be done slowly and smoothly to gain full range of motion of the joints. The ideal types of exercise are non-impact types such as walking or biking. Preventative measures are extremely important for arthritis sufferers. These include range of motion, strengthening and endurance exercises and the use of adaptive devices such as a wrist splint for racquet sports and an orthotic foot support insert for joint changes, as well as to prevent lower back, knee, ankle and foot injuries. It is also important to consider a weight reduction program if overweight. Any extra weight places added pressure on the joints. Last, but not least, choose a good exercise shoe with good cushioning and shock absorption, as well as biomechanical control. Remember to listen to your body and proceed slowly as you begin your program for improved health.

The hardest step is the one out the door!

Dr. Robert F. Weiss is a podiatrist. He was a member of the Medical Advisory Committee of the 1984 and 1988 Olympic Marathon Trials. Dr. Weiss is a veteran of 35 Marathons. more information go to