Video: Are boomers overexercising?

By Correspondent
updated 9/27/2006 7:26:55 PM ET 2006-09-27T23:26:55

Fifty-year-old Tom Maney has his priorities: It's family first, then baseball.

"It's something that I've done my whole life," he says, "and it's more than a hobby. It's really a passion for me."

A passion that has come at a cost. Between baseball and hockey, Maney has had three knee surgeries, one back surgery, 200 stitches on his mouth, one shoulder surgery and a hernia. And another operation is just around the corner.

"It's the right rotator cuff," Maney says. "I've torn that again."

But Maney may suffer from something bigger — a condition one Pennsylvania doctor has seen countless times among his baby-boomer patients. He's even coined a phrase for it: "Boomeritis."

"There's a mind-body mismatch," says Dr. Nicholas DiNubile, who practices sports medicine with the Philadelphia 76ers and the Philadelphia Ballet. "The mind is still young, often, and people think that they can still treat that body the way they did when they were 20."

Right now there are 78 million boomers in America and they're joining health clubs in astonishing numbers: up 135 percent in recent years. And that's one of the reasons that doctors say sports-related injuries are the No. 2 reason for visiting the doctor, right behind the common cold.

The total cost is more than $18 billion a year for sports-related injuries among boomers — translating into hundreds of thousands of emergency room visits in the last decade.

"It's the first generation to stay active on an aging frame" says DiNubile. "We're living longer, we're pushing our bodies in ways we weren't meant to, and the breakdowns are happening all over."

DiNubile tells his patients to adjust their workouts — that boomers can stay fit, without breaking bones.

That's worked for Andy Evian, a self-described aerobics addict with a history of knee problems.

"I'm modifying it by not jumping around," Evian says, "if I don't keep up with the person next door to me, it's not so terrible."

It's a concept Tom Maney understands, but can't seem to follow.

"I can tell him what I think, but he's going to do what he's going to do," says Beth Maney.

And even Beth knows her husband won't stop playing as long as he can still bring in a run for the home team.

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