It is important for boomers to work to strengthen the muscle groups around joints, like knees and hips, to avoid injury.
Numbers crunched by the orthopedic surgeon's group show boomers are already feeling the ouch. Doctors' visits for symptoms and diseases of the musculoskeletal system and connective tissue in 2009 for boomers were markedly higher than five years earlier. Numbers of hip and knee replacements also are up.
Wright's suggestions for boomers are to work on flexibility, do aerobic exercise regularly, carry a load that uses muscles in three planes of motion, rather than using weight machines, and equilibrium and balance.
"I believe we are saving lives by saving mobility," Wright said.
Dr. Mimi Zumwalt, a 50-year-old orthopedic surgeon at Texas Tech University who has injured her both of her shoulders during fitness competitions, said active boomers need to think smarter about their bodies.
"You can't slow down the aging process but at least you can protect" your body better, she said. "You need to preserve whatever your body has left and respect it."
That's what Sandy Collins is doing. A Lubbock resident who works in the Texas Tech athletics department, she played on the Women's Tennis Association tour in the 1980s and 1990s, climbing to No. 17 in the world. Because of the wear and tear, she has had surgeries on her left shoulder and four on the same knee. She no longer plays competitively but hits with her teenage daughter.
"You learn your limitations quicker and you listen to them more," Collins said. "I understand my limitations and accept them because I don't plan on having any more surgeries."
Exercise doesn't stop with the boomer generation, though. Athletes near the century mark say it can be the proverbial fountain of youth. Houston's Harry Pepper played baseball, football and some tennis in his younger years.
At 101 he's still competing. Last year he was the sole entrant in the 100-year-olds' division at the senior games. He had to compete to win his division, so he bowled with the 95-year-olds, besting their bronze medal winner's score.
"If you want to live, you've got to move your body," Pepper said. "You lose it if you don't move it."
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