Fitness After 50

World's Fastest Over-50 Runner Teaches Boomers How to Get Active

While the X and Y generations are at home uploading their iPods and arguing the merits/disadvantages to Nintendo's Wii or Sony's latest Playstation incarnation, a different generation of people are steering clear of the couch potato mentality and becoming more physically active.

Folks over 50 are the fastest-growing segment of the fitness population, say recent reports. There are several reasons behind this trend. Most Baby Boomers don't want to feel "old'" as they grow older. So, they're putting an emphasis on cultivating a greater quality of life in a number of ways. In addition to establishing financial security and acquiring the creature comforts they couldn't afford in their youth, the 50+ set is also focusing in on physical health - making it a top priority.

"A lot of the problems once believed to be associated with aging, like aches, pains, fatigue, and lack of strength really aren't side effects of getting older. They're from disuse of the body," says Bill Collins, 57, a master sprinter and world's fastest human for his age. "I am a prime example of how you can be in the best shape of your life while getting older. On the track, I've beat my best times from when I was 30 years younger."

Collins has won 91 American Masters crowns at the USA Masters Track and Field Championships as well as 18 World Track Championship titles as a master sprinter. His 33 world records in the 100 meters, 200 meters and 400 meters make him the fastest runner alive for his age. "By remaining physically active, and doing the right activities for the body - in ways that are age appropriate - other silver-haired people can enjoy a better quality of life, too," says Collins.

Collins© Tips to Getting Active

1. Fitness centers: "You probably won't step into a gym and hear them pumping The Grateful Dead or Motown favorites through the sound system, these days," says Collins, "but gyms are doing a lot to cater to the over-50 crowd." Many gyms are refocusing attention from the hard-body athletes to the "everyday people" who desire a natural, healthy body. Through this, gyms are attracting a greater percentage of Boomer clientele. Several fitness center ad campaigns are targeted toward Boomers, and fitness instructors are being schooled in the ways older adults should be reintroduced to a fitness routine. "With these changes in place, hitting the gym can be a great way to get back into shape," says Collins.

2. Determine your physical age: Fitness instructors should help you tailor a program right for your level of ability. Your "physical age" may not be the same as your chronological one, and workouts should be based on your physical ability. "If you've been out of the fitness loop for a while, you'll want to build up gradually to the fitness level you desire," offers Collins. "I suggest slower warm-ups and routines that focus on long-term consistency and building stamina."

3. Performance Wear: Even though aches and pains aren't necessarily the result of aging, suffice it to say that a 50-year-old's body has a few more miles on it than someone in his or her 30s. Therefore, it's important to support joints and muscles to reduce the chance of injury while working out, regardless of activity. "I'm never without CW-XÆ Conditioning WearÆ when I'm on the track," says Collins. In fact, by wearing his signature CW-X tights, and due to his record holding speed, Collins is affectionately known as "Superman'" in some running circles. CW-X Conditioning Wear, tops and tights, features a patented Conditioning WebTM that cradles muscles and joints, protecting them from jarring impact and injury. Apparel even features UPF 50+ sun protection, nanotechnology fabrics that maintain core body temperature in colder conditions or wick away moisture to keep the skin dry and comfortable, and antimicrobial fiber technology to reduce odors. All of this technology allowsfitness enthusiasts of all ages to maximize their performance. CW-X performance wear is not just for running, Collins even wears it while hiking and biking. Visit to learn more about fitness apparel.

4. Clue-in your doctor: Don't forget to run your fitness regimen by your doctor before beginning. He or she can point out activities that may be helpful (or harmful) for your condition. "I know it sounds clichÈ, but definitely check with your doctor before jumping into physical activity. You don't want to risk injury that will sideline you for weeks or months," warns Collins. If exercising ever causes you to have excessive shortness of breath, light-headedness or difficulty with balance, stop and consult your doctor.

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