53-year-old Greg Norman's surprise showing at the British Open a few weeks ago--and 41 year old swimmer Dara Torres' heroics at the Olympic trials--has Bill Lohmann of the Richmond Times-Dispatch probing the larger story of sporty boomers.
According to the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association, the number of health-club members 55 or older in 2005 was 8 million, an increase of 314 percent since 1990. The number in the 35-to-54 age category, 13.5 million, represents an increase of 113 percent. The success of aging famous athletes on the world stage might lead even more boomers to join health clubs or sign up for more golf lessons, which would certainly please Pulliam and other teaching pros. At the least, such triumphs of age will reinforce what boomers already know, said Hunter Schwartz, director of operations at the James Center YMCA in downtown Richmond.
Alas, this welcome increase in athletics among boomers also has a downside.
In May, the American College of Sports Medicine convened a symposium on "Overuse Injuries in the Baby Boomer: The Results of Years of Abuse." Health-care professionals discussed the problems of acute injuries such as broken bones, ruptured tendons and ligaments, torn rotator cuffs, ankle sprains and knee injuries suffered at a young age. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons even has a name for sports injuries among boomers: "boomeritis." The phenomenon of the aging boomer athlete was documented by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission this decade when it reported that sports injuries among boomers increased 33 percent from 1991 to 1998. As boomers continue to try to stay young and fit, chances are this trend will only get worse.
To avoid "boomeritis" Jane Brody of the New York Times says " exercise, exercise, exercise!"