Steinhardt School physical therapy professor Marilyn Moffat and her co-author, Carole B. Lewis, write in their new book, Age-Defying Fitness, that “the antidote to aging is activity. Inactivity magnifies age-related changes, but action maintains and increases your abilities.” The book, published by Peachtree Publishers, provides “the ingredients to help you make the most of your body for the rest of your life,” the New York Times’ “Science Times” noted. (Click here to read the full New York Times article). These include a quiz and a five-part test to assess posture, strength, balance, flexibility, and endurance, and chapters with step-by-step instructions on how to safely improve these areas.
We sat down with Moffat recently to talk about age-defying fitness for the baby boomer generation.
Recently we’ve been hearing the word, ‘boomeritis.’ What is it?
Moffat: Boomeritis is a composite term used to describe the result of deterioration of muscle strength, bone strength, and agility as our baby boomers are pushing their bodies in their attempt to stay active. As they reach their 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s their vulnerabilities are resulting in arthritis, bursitis, and tendonitis, or what we call the “itises.” The suffix “itis” merely means inflammation, so we are dealing more and more with inflammation of a joint, or a bursa, or a tendon.
Who is at risk for boomeritis?
Almost any one of our baby boomers is potentially at risk of boomeritis. Musculoskeletal injuries are the number one reason why people seek medical consultation in the United States and both injury and arthritis are the primary reasons why they stop exercising. If we are going to live longer and longer, the risk of injury and deterioration of our skeletal parts necessitates a major commitment to keeping out bodies totally fit. And that includes more than aerobic fitness and muscle strengthening, the two activities on which most individuals and most fitness centers tend to concentrate.
So how should boomers — and their older and younger peers — try to keep fit?
Fitness includes 5 parameters — posture, strength, balance, flexibility, and aerobic activity — and one is no more important than the other as our bodies age.
It doesn’t take much to make one aware of our terrible postures (derived from computer use, lack of training, laziness) as we look at people walking in the streets. Posture must be emphasized throughout one’s working day and during all exercise activity. None of us wants to be that old humped over man or woman.
We must all think of our bodies as working machines. We would never decide to not put oil in our cars or to make the necessary repairs to keep an engine going. And yet, we never stop and think that our bodies need attention on a regular basis to keep that machine functioning smoothly and fitfully over an increasingly long lifetime. Prevention of many of the aging problems is possible with an appropriate Marilyn Moffat program of posture, strength, balance, flexibility, an aerobic activity. And most importantly, when embarking on a fitness program when one is in the baby boomer age bracket, it should not be undertaken without a consultation by a physical therapist to assure that one will be doing the right kind of activity in each of the five domains of fitness.