Exercise for male Boomers should be different than exercise at 30Something. We’re reading a new book for our Aging With Freedom® Book Club by an exercise physiologist to world-class athletes. You’re Too Old to Die Young, by Dan Zeman. It includes an introductory forward by Greg LeMond, three-time Tour de France champion before the age of performance-enhancing drugs.
It’s another book on aging successfully, billed as a wake-up call for the male Baby Boomer on how to age with dignity.
Zeman starts with the observation that Boomers inherited from the Greatest Generation a longer lifespan due to advances in health. Thanks especially to vaccines and antibiotics. And the hard-won freedom to make personal choices.
That hits a chord for Aging With Freedom®, as our motto emphasizes the freedom to make choices for high wealth, high health, and high purpose in our third act of retirement.
Just through Zeman’s Introduction and three things stand out.
One — Social Responsibility and Intergenerational Conflict.
Dan Zeman’s Why to choose better health as we age has a distinct element of social responsibility. And a warning that Boomers can’t just count on younger generations to bear the cost of our poor health choices. The disproportionate scale of the Boomer generation imposes a burden on smaller generational cohorts that follow. And invites intergenerational conflict.
Our legacy isn’t written at the end of our career but at the end of life. We risk a damning generational reputation, according to Zeman, unless we make positive choices for a healthier lifestyle — mentally, physically, and socially.
These choices determine the quality of our own life. And largely determine the burden we impose on others. Collective bad choices invite intergenerational conflict.
Two — Exercising like we’re still 30Something won’t cut it.
Two things have changed since we were 30Something.
First, our bodies changed. Aging Boomers don’t heal or metabolize the same as when we were teenagers or even 30Something. We’re on the downhill slope and need to account for that. High impact exercise hurts joints and connective tissue. Literally.
Second, the world changed. We’ve all gone more digital and virtual and less analog and physical. Sitting in front of screens? This means we lost 400 calories or more of daily energy burn compared to prior generations. That’s the impact of all the labor-saving advances and virtual entertainment. Before we start exercising.
Exercise three times a week in the same fashion as when we were young? Not enough calories burned and increased risk of injury.
Third — Zeman’s Prescripes a “What” or “How” for a Healthier Lifestyle
Zeman’s background in exercise physiology is reflected in recommendations for functional flexibility, mobility, and agility. (Details to follow in later chapters.)
This seems wholly consistent with our own research and approach. Zeman is honest. He doesn’t guarantee a longer life but his steps should at minimum change your outlook on life. It fits neatly with others that advocate for treating aging more like a sport. E.g., Peter Attia’s Centenarian Olympics. Or the Iron Nun, Taking on Aging as a Sport. (A prior Aging With Freedom® Book Club feature.) But exercise for male Boomers can’t use the same ends or means as exercise in younger years.
Of these three points? The most controversial is Zeman’s different why for a proactive change in healthy lifestyle for Baby Boomers compared to anyone else we’ve read or followed. Especially male Boomers. The social responsibility not to burden the following generations is a new collective prod.
But it’s consistent with the history of planning-focused retirees. Individual retirees often express the goal of not wanting to burden their own families. Zeman takes a step back and generalizes from the specific individual to the broader intergenerational issues of fairness. And warns that Baby Boomers can’t count on smaller younger generations to just bear any burden and pay any price in support of Boomers’ bad health and lifestyle choices. Exercise for male Boomers has to change. And there are prescriptions for diet and social connections because mental and emotional health matter too. While Zeman addresses male Boomers more directly, the same general arguments apply to the other half of the Boomers.
Government Funding Conflicts Ahead?
This seems like an emerging trend. What not to fund with limited resources. Expect more of these arguments. From both sides of the political aisle.
Recent examples? Defund borders and defund police. Reduce military spending. Eliminate foreign aid. Defund universities. Are we now risking a call to defund Baby Boomers? Cutting Social Security and Medicare would be just one more reduced commitment. We’re not advocating any of these outcomes, just observing a political conflict trend. Intergenerational fighting over limited resources. And we’re fitting Zeman’s warning shot into the larger fiscal and social discussion.
Interested to read the details of the rest of the Zeman’s You’re Too Old To Die Young. One, to see how to alter our own exercise routine. And two? To better understand social trends. Both trends among Baby Boomers and between Boomers and following generations.
More reactions to follow as we read more. Exercise for male Boomers should change.