Saturday, April 15, 2006

The boomeritis cure that dare not speak its name

Bill Pennington's article in the NYT -- Baby Boomers Stay Active, and So Do Their Doctors -- is about the Energizer Bunny generation of people who just can't stop running and engaging in other vigorous physical exercise. Doctors call their condition "boomeritis."
Encouraged by doctors to continue to exercise three to five times a week for their health, a legion of running, swimming and biking boomers are flouting the conventional limits of the middle-aged body's abilities, and filling the nation's operating rooms and orthopedists' offices in the process.

They need knee and hip replacements, surgery for cartilage and ligament damage, and treatment for tendonitis, arthritis, bursitis and stress fractures. The phenomenon even has a name in medical circles: boomeritis.
Is there a middle ground between the physical excesses of today's physically overactive boomers and the view best expressed by Mark Twain's quip, "Whenever I get the urge to exercise, I lie down until it passes"? Sure. It's called walking. Not very sexy, not a lot of competitive glory, not a lot of surgery needed to maintain your pace as you get older, and you don't need a gym or special equipment. Oddly enough, Pennington's article about boomers and exercise never once mentions walking. It's as if walking has become a dirty word, as if people view it as an admission of failure. Too bad. They don't know what they're missing.

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