The Baby Boom generation is the generation that will never grow old. Or at least that's what we keep telling ourselves. So how did so many of us manage to get so overweight and out of shape? Even if you were an avid athlete in your youth, chances are your life, your career and your family managed to crowd out the physical activities you used to find enjoyable. You may also find that you now have aches, pains, or more serious medical conditions that make exercise difficult or even painful.
If this sounds like your problem, I have good news for you. It's not too late to regain your fitness, and it's easier than you think. If you're a Baby Boomer who has been sedentary or largely inactive for the last 5 years or more, getting back into shape is going to be a sobering and humbling experience, but you can do it, if you follow these simple tips.
1. Prepare for a Marathon. Not literally, but figuratively. Your body adapts more slowly as you age, but it will adapt if you keep challenging it. If you expect to get fit in a quick sprint, though, you're going to be in for a rude surprise. Plan instead to make regular fitness a part of your life-long habits. This way you won't feel the pressure to achieve everything at once. Think journey, not destination, and baby steps rather than giant leaps. Like compounding interest in your savings account, it all adds up over time if you keep making steady deposits.
2. Lower the Intensity. Whatever exercise you think you'd like to try, my recommendation is to begin it at half the intensity you think will make for a good workout. That's right, half. A fitness program is not supposed to make you hurt or exhaust you or make you feel inadequate. Your first few weeks should be all about finding an intensity level that is comfortable and sustainable. If you get hurt or wear yourself out in the first week, you'll just be that much farther behind when you start again. Once you've built a base of strength and endurance, your body will let you know when it's ready to increase the intensity.
3. Increase the Frequency. Don't wait until you have an hour and a half free in your schedule. Because honestly, that happens about as often as pigs fly. Instead, commit to exercising for just 10 or 15 minutes, but do it every day. Build the Habit muscle first and all the others will follow along in due time. Once you develop the habit and begin to feel the benefits of regular physical activity, it will be much easier to add a minute or two on to each session.
4. Get Expert Help. Whatever you do, don't just go to the rec center or gym and start pounding away on the machines. A professional fitness trainer can develop a fitness program that is safe and effective for YOU. Working with a certified personal trainer helps you target your specific needs, learn the correct form and technique, and achieve the regularity and accountability that makes your fitness program successful.
For many people, getting started on an exercise program is easy, but sticking with it is hard. If you follow these tips from the beginning, you'll find it's much easier to stick with your Baby Boomer fitness program for the long run.
Have you overcome your sedentary lifestyle later in life? What tips did you use to get (and keep) moving?
(photo credit: Craig Pennington)