Health and Fitness Information for Mature Adults 

July 17, 2009

Table of Contents

  • Injury Prevention for Boomers (Rehab meets wellness)
  • Walk -- Don't Run (Reclaiming a fitness lifestyle)
  • Building Bones Step by Step (SFA member profile)
  • The Times They Are A'Changing (Thought for the day)

Injury Prevention for Boomers

American Senior Fitness Association (SFA) president Janie Clark is quoted at length in the cover story for the current issue of Rehab Management magazine (July 2009). The in-depth article "Blazing the Trail into Boomer Wellness and Prevention" by associate editor Judy O'Rourke discusses an emerging trend -- therapists offering injury prevention for the Boomer generation -- and provides numerous good-sense measures for avoiding injuries that may be associated with physical activity.

Janie Clark's contribution to the article emphasizes several major precautions that older adult exercise trainers and instructors can take to minimize risk of injury secondary to physical fitness training. Other experts interviewed by O'Rourke also supply practical recommendations, culminating in a very serviceable and comprehensive feature story.

To read the article, please click on Blazing the Trail.

Walk -- Don't Run

Speaking of injury prevention, SFA author and internationally recognized fitness consultant Jim Evans has some good advice for long-sedentary seniors who want to reestablish their physically active lifestyles. Read on:

DEAR JIM: I am finally motivated to get back in shape after many years, and I am thinking about jogging. However, at 71, I haven't run any further than from the couch to the dinner table for a long time. I'm a little chunky around the middle and take blood pressure medication but, otherwise, I'm fine. Any suggestions on how to get started? CHUNKY IN CHATTANOOGA

DEAR CHUNKY: My first suggestion is to walk -- don't run or jog. Many people are injured every year from running or jogging.

Running or jogging -- especially for de-conditioned older adults -- can wreak havoc on the bones and joints and exacerbate existing health problems. More than 65 percent of runners of all ages experience injuries each year as opposed to just 21 percent of walkers. And, not surprisingly, new runners are more likely to be injured than experienced runners [American Journal of Sports Medicine, volume 16(3), pages 285-294].

Jogging appeals to our sense of athleticism because it makes us out of breath and it makes us sweat -- both of which we associate with what athletes do in the performance of their sport. It makes us feel empowered. However, being out of breath and sweating are not realistic indications of your fitness level.

Nonetheless, even walking takes some preparation in order to get the most out of it. Try these simple suggestions to help you get started:

  • Call your doctor and ask if there are any particular health issues that you should be concerned about before starting your new regimen. Walking is usually recommended as an optimal exercise for most people, but he or she might have some other recommendations or concerns.
  • Wear comfortable footwear with good arch and ankle support. For most walkers, thick or double socks can also be worn to help absorb perspiration and prevent blisters.
  • Dress for the weather. It's OK to overdress because you can always remove unneeded layers of clothing if you become too warm.
  • Move your arms in cadence with your feet to generate some upper body engagement at the same time. Have you ever noticed how so many overweight people walk with their arms hanging motionless at their sides?
  • Walk at a pace at which you can still converse with someone. If you are so out of breath that you can't talk, slow down until you become more accustomed to your journey.
  • Walk for time rather than distance. For example, start with 20 minutes two or three times a week, and gradually increase it to an hour if you can.
  • Change your route or direction from time to time so that you don't become bored with the same routine.
  • Don't let the weather stop you from walking. If the climate is too inclement, find a local shopping mall where you can walk, or walk in place between the couch and TV (you'll remember where the couch is!).
  • Don't wear a "walkman." Listen to the sounds around you and be aware of potential hazards, such as automobiles. Better yet, take your spouse or a friend with you and enjoy some good conversation while you walk your way to fitness together.
  • Make or buy yourself a good "walking stick" and keep it parked by your front door as a reminder to get out and walk whenever you can.
  • Walking may not give you the same rush that running does, but it will be a lot safer, and who cares if it takes you a little longer to go the same distance? What's the hurry anyway? Take your time and enjoy the scenery.

    Building Bones Step by Step

    SFA member Carol Lee Rogers leads an exciting senior fitness class called "Building Bones Step by Step" through the Ashland, Oregon, Parks and Recreation Department. Part of this excitement stems from the advanced fitness levels her older adult clients are achieving and maintaining. Carol Lee says, "Most of the seniors I work with are amazingly strong and have great balance."

    Keeping her high-fit senior exercisers sufficiently challenged is a constant mission for Carol Lee. Pictured here are her "Building Bones Step by Step" students performing squats and lunges. Carol Lee calls these moves "two of the most important exercises I have them do in class."

    The "Building Bones Step by Step" program focuses on exercises that strengthen the lower body, the upper body, and the core -- a combination designed to discourage age-related hip impairment, while also preserving and improving balance. The class is an inspiring example of a dedicated instructor serving an enthusiastic group of can-do fitness participants. Carol Lee says, "They amaze me all the time!"

    The Times They Are A'Changing

    SFA professionals stress functional fitness, personal independence, and a satisfying quality of life. In this way, a vibrant new philosophy is replacing the out-of-date approach bemoaned by today's quipster:

    "We've put more effort into helping folks reach old age than into helping them enjoy it."

    -- Frank A. Clark

    Experience! readers: Thank you for your interest and questions. Due to the high volume of contacts SFA receives, we cannot respond to individual queries or comments. However, the newsletter does address frequently asked questions and topics of vital interest to our members.

    Free SFA basic membership: If you aren't already a member of the American Senior Fitness Association (SFA), just sign up online at There are no fees or membership dues. And, we don't give out our members' personal information to others! When you join SFA, you'll receive our e-newsletter "Experience!" which will bring you older adult fitness news, research, and wellness tips.

    Fitness and health professionals: You may distribute copies of Experience! to your exercise clients and patients as a free newsletter service. Copies of Experience! or excerpts therefrom must always ascribe credit to the American Senior Fitness Association (SFA). To fulfill that requirement, include the complete banner (title information at the top of each newsletter) as well as all post-newsletter notes, messages, copyright information, and the SFA logo.
    American Senior Fitness Association | 1945 W Park Ave | Edgewater, FL 32132
    Address mail to P.O. Box 2575, New Smyrna Beach, FL 32170
    888) 689-6791 |  (386) 957-1947


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