Fitness Advice for the Middle-Aged

Written by Paul Wolf

fitness routines for playing all sorts of sportsWe're strapping our surfboards to the roof rack, jumping on our mountain bikes and lacing up the hiking boots. A generation gears up for a fitness-filled retirement.

The generation that started the running boom and the aerobics revolution will redefine retirement.

For many in the next wave of retirees, work will be replaced by working out. Instead of a social life built around bridge games and early-bird specials, sports and serious competition brings the new breed of retirees together.

"Fitness is the center of my lifestyle," says Hansi Rigney, a recent retiree and devoted race walker from California. The races she walks both locally and out of state are an opportunity to compete and catch up with friends who share a passion for her sport.

Right now we may be weekend warriors, battling the bulge on the tennis court, in the surf and on our bikes. But in the coming years, many of us will cut back on work or cut it out altogether, giving us the free time to do more of what we want to do. And like a kid in a candy store, many of us will bite off more than we can chew.

Say you were retiring next month, and you suddenly have time to do those long hikes you've been dreaming about. You start hitting the treadmill on a steep incline for 25 minutes a day just one week before your first big hike. Big mistake, says Doug McKee, a personal trainer in San Francisco. "That approach might work with a 25-year-old, whose body can handle a [six-hour] surprise when it comes." But you have to be better prepared. 

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