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Exercise Can Take A Toll On Aging Muscles, Bones

Posted July 20, 2001

— As you get older, staying active becomes even more important to your health, but exercise also takes a toll on your aging muscles and bones.

In the early 1980s, Tim Baumgarner did not worry much about getting hurt while playing football at Duke, but now that he has hit 40, it seems like his body is starting to break down.

"When I get up in the morning, my knees will pop, my shoulders will pop and my elbows will pop all at once," he says.

Baumgarner was diagnosed with boomeritis, a catchy name for the injuries people tend to get when they hit their 40s and 50s. You start to lose muscle mass around age 40, and it is possible to lose more muscle over the next 20 years.

Aging muscles also compromise endurance, making you more susceptable to injury. It is also the reason your injuries may take longer to heal.

Dr. Claude Moorman played football with Baumgarner. As Director of

Duke Sports Medicine Center

, he sees how injuries affect you differently as get older.

"In an older patient, you may see a fracture because the bones are weaker," he says.

Achilles tears, muscle tears and calf injuries are common injuries in older athletes. Low-impact activities are better for boomers. It is also important to maintain your exercise routine.

"If I take a couple days off from exercising, that's normally not a good idea," Baumgarner says. "If I work out every single day, the recovery is much shorter."

Most sports injuries can be treated with ice and rest. You should be fine in a few weeks. If the pain is intense and you are not able to get around, you may want to see a doctor.


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