Exercise pundits often misplace the message

The other day I happened to catch a segment on a popular network daytime TV show. One of the guests was a fitness instructor who proceeded to show the program hosts a few exercise moves. What I saw shocked me.

The guest was clearly in shape, strong, and the product of regular, aggressive workouts—the kind that make for big arms and six-pack abs. Good for her.

Our two female hosts (both 50+), while trim and lovely, were clearly not in the kind of shape as their well-cut guest; much less the same age demographic. Never-the-less, the guest proceeded to demonstrate exercise moves the hosts would never—and should never—attempt.  

Possible injury awaits those who push exercise past what is appropriate for their ages and fitness levels, and the guest should have known that for her baby boomer hosts. It’s a pretty good guess that her fitness message was off the mark for much of the program’s viewership as well.

Another opportunity lost

This isn’t the first time I’ve witnessed a misplaced message between exercise and exerciser. I’ve seen this exercise hodgepodge all my life and it’s one thing that keeps me motivated to speak about—and demonstrate—age- and fitness-level appropriate workout routines. One workout routine doesn’t fit all. And shouldn’t.

Fitness fads come and go, and they largely go because they are so narrowly focused; often on a single, younger, demographic. For boomers, impracticable techniques, fad-driven exercises, or complicated and time-consuming regimens often discourage participation right out of the gate, or lead to frustration and ultimately a failed commitment.

Key for baby boomers (including our misguided program hosts) are varied exercises that challenge the muscles without stressing the joints. And it shouldn’t be complicated. Simple thirty minute workouts three days a week using light resistance (weights) can start to help you feel stronger and appear more toned in just a few workouts. (Read more tips on proper exercises for boomers in my Body Electric Book.)

There’s something else that’s often lost in the “six-pack mentality” of modern-day exercise messaging, and especially relevant for baby boomers today: exercise can help you temper the effects of aging and help you live longer. How could you not be motivated by that?

A toned-looking body is the bonus that regular exercise can bring. Feel free to max out whatever benefits you can draw from that. Flaunt it, baby. But how you feel, how you live, and how much longer you’re hanging around this planet – that’s the real magic the right exercise can bring if you stick with it.  

Flaunt that too.