Getting creakier? You may want to ease up with age, but you don't have to stop
Nor would Roger Oxendale have believed years ago that he'd be running 70 miles at one time at age 53. He represents the other big group of boomers: those who have recognized the ways that exercise adds to quality of life and are participating far more intensely in athletics now than they did when they were younger. The hospital executive from Pittsburgh took up running at age 40 to get in shape and avoid the monotony of hotel rooms on his frequent business travels. After running his first Marine Corps Marathon in 1997 (he beat Al Gore), he became intrigued by ultra-marathons, which are races longer than 26.2 miles. "It's a real sense of accomplishment for me," he says. And he does it smartly, alternating running with cycling to stave off injury.
Kathrine Switzer, who was just out of her teens when she became the first woman to officially enter and finish the Boston Marathon and still runs regularly at age 60, puts it this way: "Fitness," she says, "really is the fountain of youth." So here's our guide to taking a drink. We'll tell you how to modify your routine as you age so as to prevent injury (Page 69) and how to get started, if you've never worked out before (Page 70). We'll explore whether there's such a thing as too much exercise (Page 72), and introduce Ironman triathlete Karen Smyers, who's still competing at age 45 (Page 75).
First, we offer advice from three specialists on how to avoid injury and what to do if you fail: DiNubile; Scott Rodeo, an orthopedic surgeon and researcher at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York; and Andrew Chen, an orthopedic sports medicine surgeon in Franconia, N.H., and a spokesperson for the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
As a rule of thumb, they say, if you feel sharp or stabbing pain (as opposed to sore muscles) during activity-stop! If the pain doesn't go away after a few days off and some ice, seek medical advice. Here are more specific guidelines for the injuries doctors see most often: