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Staying Fit After Forty

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Have you ever heard of "boomeritis?" It is actually a term that has been coined by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, referring to a growing number of sports related injuries among baby boomers. In fact, the problem is so extensive, that the AAOS has developed a web site, www.boomer-itis.org geared toward helping active baby boomers avoid and cope with injuries.

Of course, the AAOS is not in any way discouraging boomers from staying active and fit, on the contrary, the organization recognizes that the benefits of exercise far outweigh the risks of injury. But don’t forget, it’s a good idea to get your doctors approval before starting any exercise program. So once that’s done and you’re ready to roll, how do you avoid being sidelined by an injury?

Follow these five tips, and you’ll be well on your way:

1. Stay Balanced! Be sure to incorporate a good mix of stretching, flexibility exercises and cardiovascular activity. The more well rounded the exercise program, the less likely you are to sustain an injury.

2. Variety is the Spice of Life! Mix it up a little bit. Don’t do the same routine every day. Walk a few days a week, bike or go to the gym and use the treadmill. By doing this, you accomplish two things: You’re less likely to get bored with your routine and quit, and by varying more likely to avoid injuries stemming from overused muscles.

3. Stay Loose! Stretching seems to help keep injuries at bay. Tightness can spell disaster, and since muscle tissue elasticity decreases with age, older muscles are even more at risk.

4. Gear Up! Go for the bicycle helmet, make sure running shoes fit properly and by all means, wear the wrist, elbow and knee pads while skating or roller blading. Safety equipment can keep you out of the emergency room and into your routine.

5. Take Your Time! Don't try to do too much at once. Limit yourself to increases of just 10% per week. For example if you're running for 20 minutes one week, increase to just 22 minutes the next, and build from there. A rapid ramp up can be a real shock to your system.

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