Fitness over Fifty: Three Myths Exploded
The famed baby boomer generation is now aged between 46 and 64, so shortly this entire post-WWII demographic bubble will be over 50. And they’re in horrible physical shape.
The luxuries that the baby boomers have created for themselves are mostly their downfall; rich, plentiful calorie and fat-laden diets along with a generally sedentary lifestyle have combined to create an unhealthy populace characterized by extreme physical limitations and multiple diseases.
Diabetes, high blood pressure and cancer are three deadly conditions that can all be directly related to baby boomer’s unhealthy lifestyles. These conditions will multiply as the baby boomer generation continues aging, imparting staggering health costs on our already over burdened health system.
Additionally, out-of-shape baby boomers create significant limitations on their ability to enjoy life by lacking muscle and cardiovascular strength and endurance. Their bodies can’t act on their desires, and life quality goes down in a self-perpetuating spiral of inactivity and continued physical decline.
This is tragic for both individual baby boomers and for society because it doesn’t have to be this way. Several myths exist about fitness over 50 contributing to a sense of resignation that, once the half-century threshold has been crossed, nothing much can be done to improve physical ability. Part of this comes from our youth-oriented popular culture, while much of it unfortunately comes from baby boomers themselves as an excuse for inaction.
Following are three of these myths about fitness over 50. Anyone in the fitness industry should take interest in this huge demographic swath and work to smash these myths, we owe it to baby boomers as part of our profession, and we owe it to society as part of our humanity.
Myth #1 – I can’t add significant muscle mass. Yes, it’s true that as we age and particularly above age 50 that free testosterone levels decline in both men and in women. Since free testosterone provides the key for muscle building, naturally we can’t hold as much muscle mass at 50 as we did at 30. But while free testosterone declines after 50, it by no means goes away. In fact, research shows that free testosterone increases with hard, vigorous exercise, especially with resistance training.
This is where lifting heavy as part of a workout rotation becomes important. And while baby boomer’s who’ve been sedentary for long periods need to work into this over several months, the truth is people over 50 can indeed add very significant lean muscle mass provided they’re willing to work hard in the weight room.
Myth #2 – I can’t lose my body fat. Ever wonder why so many baby boomers over 50 are overweight? As we age our metabolism slows and we don’t need as many calories. Unfortunately, many baby boomers continue consuming the same number of calories post 50 as when they were 25.
It has nothing to do with an inability to burn and to lose fat when over 50, we just need to consume fewer calories. And not only do seniors need to drop calorie levels, they also need to eat the right things. With a lower calorie intake, we have fewer food units to get the necessary nutrients, including lean meats, low-glycemic carbohydrates, and healthy fats. This is where a transition to clean eating becomes critical.
Myth #3 – I’m going to hurt mself. While getting in shape after 50 must be built in layers depending on the individual, done right the risk of injury is minimal and not really any different that someone much younger.
This is where core strength, posture, balance, and flexibility become increasingly important. And although these factors are important for any age group, they’re especially critical for those over 50. But if done as part of an ongoing fitness goal set, and if exercises are done properly with correct form, the chance for injury during exercise is low. The added benefit, or course, is that baby boomers will be significantly less injury prone in real life as a result of their work in the gym.
So don’t ever let anyone say they’re too old to get back into shape, look at the inspirational proof existing all around us showing just what incredible results can be acheived. Do your baby boomer friends, family, and loved ones a favor by forwarding this to them. And if you’re a baby boomer yourself, quit making excuses and get with the program. Not only will all baby boomers be better off and live better lives, society as a whole will benefit too, what a gift.