Authors: Marilyn Moffat and Carole B. Lewis
Publisher: Peachtree Publishers (September 30, 2006)
Reviewed by Meg Heinz, 3FC Mod and Certified Personal Trainer
The baby boomer generation is aging, but we’re refusing to do it gracefully. Rather than being satisfied with rocking chairs on our porches, we want to be active participants in life. Unfortunately, even though we don’t want to slow down, our bodies are getting older. We know how important exercise is for our continued health and well-being. But so many of us don’t know what to do, how to do it, and most importantly, how to keep from being injured. Enter Age-Defying Fitness, a guide to exercise for baby boomers (and older), written by two highly credentialed physical therapists.
As is apparent from the title, the book is premised on the idea that activity is the antidote to aging. It focuses on functional fitness – the capability to participate in the activities of everyday life – and divides fitness into five domains: posture, strength, balance, flexibility, and endurance.
The book has you use self-assessment and self-teaching to devise an appropriate exercise program for yourself. You begin by assessing your current levels of fitness in each of the five domains. Don’t worry – you can’t flunk! Each self-test is laid out in an easy, step-by-step format. Following the initial self-assessment are five chapters, each focusing on exercises targeting one of the domains. The chapters begin with yet another self-assessment, which then determines which exercises are appropriate for your level of fitness. You get a workout with your pencil before you even finish the book!
If you’re not exhausted from all the quizzes, it’s finally time to get fit. A quick review of the exercises covered in the book makes it clear that the book is geared to novice exercisers and people who are completely deconditioned. This is Exercise 101 – it’s as basic and simple as you can get. If you have no experience exercising, this is the perfect starter book for you. On the other hand, if you are currently exercising or have some past experience, pass this book by or you’ll be bored and unchallenged.
But if you are one of the target audience – and it’s a big one – you’re going to love the age-appropriate models, photo demonstrations, and clear step-by-step instructions. Even the most out-of-shape or overweight woman will find exercises that she can do now and for some time in the future. You wouldn’t be exhausted or sore and you wouldn’t hurt yourself following the exercises in the book.
All the exercises can be done at home with minimal equipment. You can use your own body weight, lightweight dumbbells, or resistance bands. A postcard for a free Theraband (resistance band) is bound into the book, a nice touch.
The book is written from the perspective of physical therapy and it shows. Exercises are given odd names that most of us wouldn’t recognize – crunches are called ‘trunk flexions’ and bicep curls become ‘elbow flexions’. The section called ‘8 Great Exercises For Arms’ actually includes five for shoulders, one for the back, and two for arms. Perhaps physical therapists use a different exercise vocabulary, but you may be puzzled at the names given to common exercises. Nevertheless, they’re explained and illustrated in an easy to understand way.
Not surprisingly, the book frequently plugs working with or consulting a physical therapist for help and advice. But most of us don’t have access to physical therapists unless our insurance pays for treatment after an injury or surgery. When someone is ready to progress after working with the exercises in the book, a more affordable option might be to consult a certified personal trainer about proper exercise form and program design.
Age-Defying Fitness is highly recommended for baby boomers who want to work out at home and have minimal previous exercise experience. If you love quizzes and feel comfortable devising your own program, it’s a great first step into the world of fitness for older men and women.