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Cross training key for baby boomers

Someone in the fitness and health industry recently made a comment that, “twenty years from now, a nation of super fit 70-somethings will redefine old age.”

I say we don’t have to wait 20 years to see that. I see super fit old people at the recreation center every day. The LaLannes in our midst will grow in numbers.

Just at the recreation center, there are a dozen or more members in their late 80s to early 90s who practice aerobic and muscle-strengthening exercise that all Americans shoud be undertaking to lead a healthy lifestyle.

Americans over the age of 65 face chronic diseases that are a major driver of healthcare costs. When you hear discussions about a healthcare crisis, prevention becomes a familiar refrain.

Baby boomers, the largest, richest and fastest-growing segment of the population, are beginning to accumulate in middle age. As a matter of fact, this group’s numbers will increase by 25 percent over the next eight years, unlike the 18– to 49-year-olds, who will experience virtually no growth in numbers over the same period. With a greater number of older consumers, the demand for products and services designed for, and marketed specifically to them will certainly grow. In 2011 alone, it has been estimated that this group spent over $73 billion on products and services to help slow the aging process.

While I’m not specifically recommending that everyone over the age of 65 go out and join a gym, I do believe strongly in strength training and safety. Both are areas where the trained and certified instructors at fitness facilities can utilize their expertise to help. Also, given this group’s increased risk of falls, I place an emphasis on balance training. The aerobic component of a well-rounded fitness program is the easist and most enjoyable part. Go out and walk, and when the weather permits, hop on your bicycle.

In certain ways, I gain my inspiration from the seniors I see at the recreation center and also those I play with. Nancy, who is five years older than I, epitomizes the quintesential baby boomer — she’s determined, driven and accomplished. Additionally, she does what some baby boomers don’t: she listens to the messages that her aging body sends her and modifies her workout accordingly to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

My own problem (and that of other baby boomers) is that I don’t want to hear that I cannot do the same activities I did when I was 30 or 40. But, I am getting better. As we get older, we have more weak links, more vulnerabilities, and our frames begin failing us. ’“Bommeritis” is our illness — musculo-skeletal wear-and-tear issues. In our age group, overuse and repetitive strain injuries to the knees, lower back, shoulder/rotator cuff, and tendons are becoming increasingly and alarmingly common.

At the first sign (okay, maybe not the first) of a nagging pain, I dial back how much and how intensly I’m pushing myself. I try to find my limitations and accommodate them with the proper exercise.

People are under the misconception that they are supposed to be deteriorating as they age. So, if they get injured, they just stop exercising. Do not stop. Instead, focus on what you are able to do: walk if you cannot run, work your lower body with cardio on a recumbent bike, strength train your legs and do core work if it’s your upper body that’s injured.

For baby boomers, in general, cross training is key. We simply cannot do everything we’ve always done at the same intensity level. At almost 60 I keep a slower pace, but I’ve improved in other areas: flexibility and balance. With pilates classes weekly, my core is the strongest it has ever been. I encourage you to explore the various fitness formats available so that you can feel good and age gracefully. Each time you work out, you should have a purpose, whether it is stress relief, endurance, strength-building, or form improvement. And there should be days of rest to allow the muscles to rebuild and to help prevent injury.

Even as we alter what we’re doing as we age, we also need to shift our mindset. Remain open to new and exciting things. Keep going strong. Keep truckin’.

Senior Olympics

Fran Brown, a member of the recreation center, participated in the 2012 Rocky Mountain Senior Games held in Greely, Colo., June 6-10. This is her third year to compete.

Over 600 athletes from 18 states attended this open event.

Fran, competing in the 70-74 age group, won a bronze in each of the three events she participated in: shot put, javelin and discus. This qualifies Fran for the Summer National Senior Games to be held in Cleveland, Ohio, July 2013. However, her decision to attend that event will depend on how she does in the Moab Senior Games in November 2012.

Congratulations, Fran. Faced with old age, I can take comfort in watching you and the many other seniors from the recreation center do remarkable things.

In Greeley there were only four athletes representing the Western Slope. Pagosa Springs had two participants, Bayfield one, and Durango one.

“I want to encourage more persons from Pagosa Springs to join the fun and camaraderie at next year’s Senior Games,” said Fran. If you are interested, all information can be found online at rockymountainseniorgames.com.

Pagosa Duathlon

There are only 10 more days to save big on early bird discounts for the Pagosa Duathlon.

Things are heating up and so is the competition. This year’s “Du” is gearing up to be another great race for all levels of athletes — so that means you.

“Half-duers” have a three-mile run and a seven-mile mountain bike; “full-duers” have six miles to run, 12 miles to bike. Remember, you can do these races solo or as a two-person team. And don’t forget our rising stars — the–“mini-duers” running one mile, riding two.

There’s a race for everyone, so make it a family affair.

Early registration ends June 24. For easy registration, go to https://pagosaduathlon.chirrpy.com/ or visit www.ACVAP.org and download a paper form. Registration forms will also be available at the recreation center, the Hub, Momentum 24/7, and Pedal and Powder. All are easy ways to get you to the “Du.”

More race information, maps, FAQ’s and 2011 results can be found at www.ACVAP.org.

Race day on July 14 is coming up fast, so get your registrations in now for a fun and energizing event that supports Archuleta County Victim’s Assistance Program — a valued charity.

Here’s a bit of history: The Pagosa Duathlon evolved from the Pagosa Lakes Triathlon in 2006, after the latter became too big for the Recreation Center pool. Pagosa Lakes Triathlon was started in 1992 by the Recreation Center staff and for many years was a very popular event. When it was first conceived, it was one of only a handful of triathlons in Colorado that incorporated single-track trails for the run and bike legs. Today, there are many off-road triathlons of various lengths.

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