The Baby Boomer generation is not exactly the picture of perfect health. If you’re between the ages of 54 and 72 you are a Boomer. Statistically, you are likely to live ten to 15 years longer than your parents’ generation. However, you may be living those extra years with chronic health conditions. Inactivity and obesity share a big part of the blame. You don’t have to accept the inevitability that the second half of your life will be lived in pain or disability. You can improve your health and your future quality of life. It’s not too late to start, no matter your age.
First, let’s take a look at the state of health of the nation’s 74 million people over the age of 54. We’ve definitely made strides toward fighting diseases that could cut short our lives. “Improvements in early detection, treatment, and care, including changes in risk factors and lifestyle modifications” have resulted in a decline in death rates from cardiovascular disease, stroke, and cancer, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control.
These conditions and diseases haven’t gone away; heart disease and cancer remain the top two leading causes of death. Adults are now living into their 70s, 80s, and longer. They are now living with these chronic conditions. This means as their age increases, their quality of life declines.
Multiple studies have shown that the majority of Americans don’t get the minimum recommended amount of physical activity—150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week and two or more days a week of strength-training that works all major muscle groups. Thirty-one million adults over the age of 50 are moving only enough to perform life’s most basic functions.
Obesity, the other major factor in a diminished quality of life, is epidemic, according to the research. Thirty-six-point-two percent of men aged 65 to 74 are obese. That number is higher in women in the same age group—40.7 percent. Like inactivity, obesity can cause death, high blood pressure, cholesterol issues, stroke, osteoarthritis, body pain, some cancers, and more. The numbers are startling, even scary. Our oldest generation of men and women are sitting out the second half of their lives.
This doesn’t have to be the case.
“Everyone wants to live long, but no one wants to suffer long,” writes Fred Bartlit, the 86-year-old co-author of Choosing the StrongPath: Reversing the Downward Spiral of Aging. “Instead of fearing age or aging, embrace it. Make it great.” Fred says that “our bodies were not designed for a sedentary world. The key to keeping our strength as we age is regular weight training.”
Medical research shows that people who work out live long and age better than those who don’t. Exercise has been shown to strengthen you muscles and bones; reduce incidence of heart disease; improve your circulation; reduce your risk of breast, lung, colon, and uterine cancers; reduce your risk of falls; and improve your mood.
Being inactive can be a vicious cycle, especially as you age—you don’t do anything, so you don’t have the strength to do anything, so you don’t do anything. It may seem like getting on the StrongPath is difficult, but the book and the website—www.StrongPath.com—offer up many tips for the beginners, from assessing your current physical abilities, to getting motivated, to taking the first steps to establishing a strength training routine.
Fred started when he was 60, and at 86 he’s the strongest he’s every been. He’s a strength-training success story and believes everyone can follow in his footsteps. “Results occur quickly, particularly if you are a beginner or have not been exercising seriously for some time. Don’t let the gym or your own fear intimidate you. You can do this.”