A Tale of Two Pickleballers

A Tale of Two Pickleballers

Note: Names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Bill and Fred, both in their 70′s, wanted to try the fastest growing sport in America – Pickelball, a cross between tennis and badminton that has become a huge hit with older adults because a player needs to cover less space and the ball travels with less velocity. Like tennis, it still offers lots of quick stop/go movement, reaching, twisting, striking, and sometimes falling.

pickell ball

Within a week of each other, Bill and Fred hit the court with some friends. Bill’s matches resulted in a hip injury that sidelined him, while Fred enjoyed his matches and looked forward to future ones.

So why did Bill get injured while Fred did not? Both men are physically active and lean. Bill is a few years older. That could be a factor. Maybe Bill played more aggressively or for too long. But, without knowing all the particulars, we suspect those weren’t the problem.

The major difference between the two men is how they exercise. Bill spends most of his time doing classic aerobic endurance exercise, like cycling and walking. Fred does a more diverse and physically demanding regimen because he participates in the Younger Games twice a week. More than just cardio endurance, he works on flexibility, agility, strength, and power. He practices how to fall and roll, how to accelerate and decelerate, jump, pivot and move laterally. As a result, Fred is less prone to injury than Bill.

Check out this article by a healthcare professional about how to avoid injuries in Pickelball, which is all well and good except for what’s missing. No wonder ERs, as well as chiropractic and orthopedic offices are crowded with injured older adults! There’s no mention of the single most important thing you can do to avoid injury in any sport or, for that matter, daily life – basic physical training.

Trying a new sport like Picklelball is exciting and worthwhile for people of all ages. However, just like competitive athletes, everyone needs to develop their strength and other physical capabilities so they can safely join in the fun, especially older adults.

Training for total body fitness is no guarantee a person will not get injured in a new sport or activity, but it sure improves the odds. Just ask Fred.








Going Against Gravity Is Good Medicine

Going Against Gravity Is Good Medicine

Rarely will you visit the Cascade Boomer Fitness website and not find fanatical preaching for you to exercise vigorously a few times a week. But this blog will be different because it’s about the importance of Non-Exercise Activities for health and well-being, every waking hour of every day.

Over a year ago, we pointed out the dangers of sitting for prolonged periods of time. Below is a video interview below between Dr. Joan Vernikos, a former NASA scientist and author of Sitting Kills, Moving Heals, and Dr. Joseph Mercola. After listening to this discussion, you’ll never think of gravity and sedentary lifestyles the same again.

For decades, Dr. Vernikos was responsible for maintaining the health of astronauts who were weightless in space for prolonged periods of time. An observant scientist, she realized that the physical changes due to weightlessness, which include muscle and bone deterioration, were identical to those which occur in as they age, especially if they sit too much as many do.

Many of who exercise a few times a week, if not daily, tend to think we’re bulletproof. Unfortunately, that’s not true. Despite our exercising, if we spend prolonged periods of time motionless in front of a computer or TV or bridge/poker table, we are subject to the same metabolic threats – poor insulin sensitivity and systemic inflammation – as lazy couch potatoes. Mercola offers lots of good ideas and exercises to protect you from Vernikos’s harsh warnings.

If you want to maintain a healthy metabolism, her prescription is simple: just move – reach, bend, kneel, squat, jump, walk. Most important, if you want to be healthy and do the bare minimum to achieve it, just stand up at least 36 times a day. You don’t even need to break a sweat, unless you want to. Remember she’s not saying you don’t need to pay attention to nutrition or that there aren’t other benefits from exercise. She’s saying simply that to preserve metabolic health, above all else, we must be more active, more frequently throughout each and every day.
Are you standing up as you read this?

Paddy and The Panel

Paddy and The Panel

You’ll find something noteworthy and inspiring in this video of a pair of salsa dancers competing in a TV show in Britain similar to “America’s Got Talent.” It’s just a few minutes long. Watch it all because you’ll be amazed by what happens.

Maybe when you first saw the age difference between the dancers, you prematurely reacted just like the smug judge on the panel – you assumed because Paddy is un-young that she couldn’t dance anymore. He wrongly assumed she should be sitting in assisted living, knitting a shawl for her great-grandchildren.

However, it turns out that at 80 years old, Paddy would out-dance most on the panel and in the audience any day of the week. She gives a fine dance performance and dazzling display of strength, balance, agility, and flexibility. She practiced hard to achieve such excellence, which is what distinguishes her from too many her age who believe they are supposed to be fragile because they have some wrinkles.

She has a lesson for all older adults, which is: Ignore the judges on The Panel. The Panel may be friends, family, even medical professionals, influenced by a youth obsessed culture, who discourage you from pursuing challenging physical activities. Worse, The Panel can be in your own mind with messages like “I’m too old for this,” or “This isn’t dignified,” or “I will look stupid.”

Don’t let stereotypes stop you. Train like Paddy. Dance your salsa.







What’s Missing In This Exercise Video?

What’s Missing  In This Exercise Video?

There’s plenty of valid and interesting information about the metabolic effects of exercise, especially high intensity training (HIT), in this story of an unfit British medical doctor which is entitled “The Truth About Exercise.”. Being a medical doctor, he’s very focused on what exercise can do to improve blood chemistry, in particular blood sugar and fat levels.

It’s well worth the 58 minutes it takes to watch, but there’s something missing. See if you spot it.

True, as this doctor discovered, exercise produces vast improvements in insulin response, blood pressure, and other key biomarkers. In fact, the positive biochemical impacts of exercise are mind-boggling and extend to every organ system in the body. As shown in the video, you can attain most of these metabolic benefits by going all out on an exercise bike to exhaustion just a few minutes a week. HIT works. However, it would be interesting to follow-up with the doctor in a couple of years because very few people are willing to subject themselves few times a week to the extreme physical discomfort that comes with HIT. But that’s not the problem with this video.

What’s missing is equally important of the bio-mechanical benefits of exercise.

We live and move in a 360 degree universe, anchored to the earth by the force of gravity. We need to lift, reach, push, squat, pull, lunge, jump, throw, grab and twist. We need these skills to function at a high level in everyday life and to avoid injury.

You don’t get these skills from pumping hard, hunched over on an exercise bike.

It takes a well-rounded exercise program that develops strength, flexibility, coordination, balance, agility, endurance, and power. And, to tell the actual truth, more than a few minutes a week.

As this doctor will discover, there are no shortcuts.





Why to Exercise Younger

Why to Exercise Younger

Remember when you crawled around on the floor as a child? Or rolled your body across the grass? Or did agility drills in high school physical education? For many older adults, those movements are in the distant past, and it’s to their detriment because that greatly limits what they can do.

It’s not because they could no longer do them, they just stopped. When they stopped, the muscles and motor units that they developed during childhood went to sleep.


As we grow up and age, very steadily we reduce both the range and velocity of movement. Once we’re out of school at whatever grade level, we sit more, maybe walk or run, or lift a few weights, do some activities of daily living, like mow the lawn or vacuum, but no more getting up and down, crawling on all fours, or hopping sideways, or skipping, or jumping. Adulthood in industrial societies becomes an inexorable process of lost skills.

Why are they so important? If you watch the video of The Younger Games, all those exercises are body movements needed for everyday life – carrying groceries into the house, lifting a child, dodging an overly energetic dog, getting over a snow drift, getting on the ground to check a bothersome sound coming from underneath your car, opening a window, getting out of a chair or off the toilet, running away from a rogue wave while walking along a beach, crawling on the floor through smoke to escape a fire…The list goes on and on.

Of course, you will not have the same physical skills as younger people. It’s natural as we age for bones to gradually become more brittle and the muscles, ligaments, and tendons to lose strength and be less flexible. However, the right types of exercise will greatly slow this process. If fact it’s not unusual for fit older adults to have much better physical capabilities than their middle-aged children.

All exercise is good, but for older adults certain types of exercise are much better than others. We need more challenging exercises than tai chi or a walk in the park.