A little competition to boost your confidence

The Baby Boomer population – yes, the one that is over 75 million strong – comes from families that were greatly influenced by the Great Depression and World War II. At that time, the primary focus was providing for the family. Baby Boomer trends, however, are slightly shifting towards something different. Actually, something very different. This generation is gravitating more towards peak fitness levels. And not just fitness for health alone, at least not in the traditional sense. I’m talking about fitness for big-time, let-it-all-hang-out competition.

Now more than ever, Baby Boomers are competing in 5Ks, 10Ks, half marathons, marathons and triathlons. In marathons, Baby Boomers are making up large percentages of the race participants. For instance, in this year’s prestigious Boston Marathon in which participants must post a qualifying time in order to run, about one fourth will be Baby Boomers.

Whereas there is nothing wrong with a little friendly competition, why are Baby Boomers so competitive? For some, it is a matter of pushing themselves to stay in shape. For others, it is a sense of feeling great and an experience full of pride that they may never have had before in their lives. For others yet, it is to keep something positive in their lives and to inspire others. Obviously, though, these Baby Boomers did not get in shape overnight. Many may have been active their entire lives, and others may have picked up running only a few years ago.

Whatever their reason, these senior athletes have a lot to say – in words and mostly by their actions – to a much younger generation that has come to lead a rather sedentary lifestyle. Whether you have similar lifestyles to these active Baby Boomers or are just beginning a fitness program, you are saying a lot through your actions. You’re saying that you are so confident in your senior health that you could give anyone a run for their money, regardless of their age!

If you are new to fitness, consider taking on the challenge of competing in a race this year. Start small with a 5K, with many of these races offering both running and walking options. Walk it. Run it. Do half and half, but most importantly: Move! With a little friendly competition, you can see the true worth of your exercise. Your hard work will reward you and if you push yourself, you may even have a medal draping from your neck at the finish line.

Getting fit with Jane Fonda

Whoever said that you can’t get fit and look great as a Baby Boomer? Well, it certainly was not Jane Fonda. Looking svelte and as beautiful as ever in her 70s, Fonda is a prime example of how taking care of yourself through proper diet and exercise can make you look and feel great at any age.

In her video “Prime Time – Fit & Strong,” Fonda provides two levels of exercises that Baby Boomers and the elderly can perform while sitting and standing with or without weights. This video suits individuals who may not have worked out in a while, have stiff joints or who are completely new to exercise. The main focus of the video is that you are moving and burning calories in a controlled, safe aerobic workout that should help you avoid muscle and joint strain or injury.

Many times Baby Boomers and those who are older may feel insecure about exercise, think it might be too strenuous or just have no interest in it and are therefore reluctant to give it a try. Throughout this video, however, Fonda maintains an encouraging tone that puts exercisers at ease. Her video will help you understand that you should not be ashamed of your fitness level but rather you should embrace the fact that you are moving and exercising. Achieving that movement is her basic goal.

Senior health is very important, and because this is an exercise video, you have control over how much or how little you want to complete in a day’s time. The two segments work on strength and flexibility, with an additional feature of how to work on your balance. Throughout the video, Fonda offers pieces of advice for a successful workout and general approach to everyday life.

As you go through these gentle workouts, you are burning calories and gaining strength and flexibility. These exercises can help alleviate joint and muscle pains and help you move around with more ease in your daily activities. As you become more familiar with the video, consider adding weights to build your muscle strength even more. Start with a light set, even perhaps a one-pound dumbbell for each hand and work up to heavier weights as you become stronger.

For any senior or boomer getting back into fitness I give this a solid A+

Please consult your physician prior to starting any new exercise program. It is always best to make sure that you are first healthy enough prior to trying something different, especially if this is the first workout you have completed in a while.

Having a job may keep Baby Boomers ticking

The large number of Baby Boomers entering retirement age this year certainly adds stress to the already-dwindling Medicare benefits and Social Security funds available to our country. On top of that stress is the fact that companies are downsizing and handing out severance packages to employees or are forcing others to retire. Whatever the case may be, if you are a Baby Boomer who still needs to work or who still wants to work, you are not alone. There are many other individuals in the Baby Boomer population who continue working well past retirement age too.

What are the reasons why a Baby Boomer would actually want to keep working past retirement? Some reasons may include truly enjoying their job, such as a die-hard gardener who works in a greenhouse well into her 80s. Another reason may be because the pay is just that good: They may be the CEO of their own family business. Others may continue working because they would otherwise be completely bored at home. And, at any rate, we are simply living longer than what our forerunners did 60 years ago. Regardless of the reason, working past your supposed retirement age may just be what is helping you to stay ticking.

When you face the mental and physical demands of your full or part time job, you are constantly working on your alertness and strength. If you maintain proper nutrition and exercise often, more than likely you will have more energy and will be better suited to continue working in your current job. And, it can also help to improve your chances of landing a new job if you decided to retire from another occupation in the past.

If you’re in better shape, you will most likely live longer and may not need to rely upon all of those Medicare benefits anyway. To help keep the Social Security funds in better check now, the government is currently looking at pushing the eligible retirement age further and further out from age 65. This may or may not be beneficial to all Baby Boomers, but if you start leading a healthy and fit life now, it may serve you well. In fact, you may indirectly help to stretch the fund out for many more years which, in the long run, would benefit everyone in the Baby Boomer population and possibly beyond. Therefore, keep exercising and eating right if you want to continue working for as long as you need to or want to.

Keeping your job as a Baby Boomer

Our country is facing some particularly hard times in the job market, especially for the Baby Boomer population. With the first of the Boomers turning 65 years old this year, companies are looking at this population to dwindle in the workforce. And, whether it is because of their age or their general health, many may be pushed into early retirement or worse yet, handed severance packages.

You may be one of those Baby Boomers who still needs to work for another five or ten years, depending on your financial situation. You may be afraid that you could lose your job because you think your employer sees you as weakening in strength and not performing with as much energy. Ask yourself: Do I want to be seen this way, or do I want to prove that I can continue in my job? Can I push myself to try harder?

The answer can be yes, as long as your physical fitness allows you to do so. One of the best ways to protect your job as a Baby Boomer and to continue serving your company with your skilled expertise is to keep your body in its best possible health and fitness. Boomers who have integrated a well-balanced approach to life through nutrition and fitness can have a better chance at keeping their jobs because their employers will still see them as viable employees.

Some of the best ways to balance your life include eating right and making time for exercise. By eating right, you will feel better and will most likely decrease your chances of developing life-altering and debilitating diseases like heart disease. Decreasing your fat intake and boosting your palette with fresh fruits and vegetables and lean protein can help keep your heart healthy and strong. As the counterpart to good nutrition, proper exercise also helps to lower your chances of diseases as it strengthens your muscles. It also can improve your mood, which as we all know can quickly set the pace at which you approach your daily activities and relationships with family, friends and coworkers. With exercise comes flexibility and balance, which can help you prevent injury at your job, especially if you have to move, lift, push or carry often in your job.

Think about your health and fitness throughout your day today. Do you want to be healthy and strong for the rest of your life? Does staying in your job help to motivate you and keep you going? If so, take charge of your life now so that you can enjoy each and every day to your fullest potential. I’m sure you won’t regret it!

Choosing your ‘second’ career as a Baby Boomer

With the Baby Boomer population reaching retirement age this year comes a sense of uneasiness with the outlook of teetering Medicare benefits and Social Security funds. It is a scary thought to think that these benefits can eventually run out in the next twenty years or so, and with all the talk going on, it makes it even harder to imagine.

Many Baby Boomers, as they reach retirement age, find themselves in different scenarios. There are some who continue to work even beyond age 65. There are some who are forced to retire, based on their employer’s regulations or just because they can no longer meet the physical demands of the job. There may be others who face losing their job due to downsizing. Then there are some who simply retire. But for many who do retire, will Medicare benefits and Social Security checks be enough to survive from month to month?

For many, the checks just are not enough to make ends meet. This is for people who may have lost out on their retirement or for whatever reason never even had sufficient funds in the first place. Finding that “second” career can be a nightmare, especially when employers may be considering your physical and mental health appearance as you sit in front of them at an interview. Could they really be judging you based on what they are assuming about your health? Quite possibly so.

In order to improve the situation, I encourage the Baby Boomer population to work on its fitness so that you can actually land this “second” career and do a good job at it. This is especially true for jobs that demand physical work, whether it is lifting boxes, sweeping floors, carrying packages or walking from one end of the building to the other. Physical fitness can also help Boomers with more sedentary jobs because you will have more energy to perform in other areas of your lives.

Therefore, if you find yourself in a similar situation, consider your fitness level and ask yourself if you would be one of the Baby Boomers who would be passed up or one who would be hired. Now is the time to really put those thoughts into action. Start outlining your plan, take it day by day and keep track of your progress. You may just surprise yourself when you get offered your “second” career, which may be in fact even more fun than your previous careers. Give it a try and see how your balanced life of work, nutrition and fitness moves you through this next stage of your life.

Threats to Medicare benefits: Part two

Rising Medical Costs and a Possible Cut in Coverage

Two other threats to Medicare benefits are rising medical costs and a possible cut in coverage. As costs escalate, the care that seniors may have always depended on or plan to depend on may not be the same as it used to be. The same is true if the government decides to cut coverage, which is currently set at $7,700 a person per year, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Rising costs and a cut in coverage may mean less than sufficient care for the Baby Boomer population that steadily marches into retirement over the next decade.

Knowing these threats to Medicare benefits, I encourage Baby Boomers to take a long look at their fitness levels and overall health. As a trainer, I can tell you that it is never too late to start an exercise and nutrition program that can greatly improve your quality of life and decrease your dependency on Medicare benefits. Or at the very least, it can help you avoid having to frequently use Medicare benefits until much later in your life.

What are some ways that you can take charge of your life now so that you do not have to depend on Medicare as much? What can you do to not be afraid of the imminent increase in medical costs and the possible cut in coverage? Some ways to becoming a healthier, better informed Baby Boomer include:

Eliminating risk factors from your life, such as cigarette and tobacco use

Watching your diet and making some changes to it, especially if you are used to processed, sugary or salty foods

Moving around more by exercising and staying active either through work, family and volunteer activities

Reading, doing jigsaw or crossword puzzles to keep your mind sharp

Trying new things to keep you challenged and engaged every day of your life

Reading and following the habits of other fellow Baby Boomers who are active

As you continue to lead a healthy lifestyle, the rising medical costs may not have to be as much of a concern to you as it may be to others. Mitigating your risks will certainly help you to better prevent diseases and conditions that can otherwise slow you down and keep you from doing the things you love to do. Besides your normal annual check up, you may not have to visit your doctor as often. As with any fitness program, check with you physician prior to starting something new.

Threats to Medicare benefits: Part one

On January 1 of this year, the nation’s first set of Baby Boomers turned 65. With each passing day, more and more Boomers are reaching that Medicare-qualifying age. As more turn 65, that means more Boomers are starting to use their Medicare benefits and stretch the already diminishing funds even thinner. Every year, the number of Medicare-ready individuals will climb three percent. It is a concerning thought to this age group and even scarier to those who follow. Will anything be left?!!

Some say that if perhaps by adjusting various Medicare qualifications, coverages and costs, the funds can extend further out into another couple of decades before it faces depletion. However, this can take away or greatly reduce the benefits for those who may really need the security of Medicare now. The fact that the Baby Boomer population is steadily tiptoeing into the next stage of its life is a reminder of how every little decision you make every day is just as important today as it was yesterday.

From a trainer’s perspective, I believe that this great threat to Medicare benefits – the ever-growing population of Baby Boomers entering into retirement age – can be curbed greatly. It has nothing to do with the fact that the Baby Boomer population is growing. Rather, it’s about the Baby Boomer population itself. Namely, its health.

Generally speaking, the overall health of seniors is the best it’s ever been. We are all living longer as a result of advances in medicine and a better understanding of and attention to proper nutrition and exercise. However, we still need to place more emphasis on what we are or are not eating as well as if we are exercising or not. Many health risks that depend on medicines or frequent trips to the doctors, like high blood pressure or high cholesterol, can often be greatly reduced by a simple change in lifestyle. Less trips to medical clinics may mean less dependency on Medicare.

If you depend less on Medicare, you are probably focusing your time on eating right and exercising. Whole foods like fresh fruits and vegetables and lean proteins give you many important vitamins and minerals necessary to having good energy and a healthy inside. When combined with exercise, nutrition can significantly help to reduce risk factors that could otherwise land you in a hospital gown on the physician’s table nervously waiting for your diagnosis or treatment plan for what could have been a preventable condition.