Boomer Life: I’ve lost my bounce

O P I N I O N

BOOMER LIFE

by Annette Kurman



After decades of working out in various gyms (anyone remember Gloria Stevens from the ’70s?) participating too-numerous-to-count exercise groups and programs, and starting to run 5Ks in my 60s, it has come to my attention that I, and perhaps many members of my cohort, have lost our “bounce.”

No, I don’t mean our boob bounce; that’s for another article. I mean our ability and desire to bounce or jump during exercising. When was the last time you did a real jumping jack? 

I could blame it on COVID (doesn’t everybody blame every ill on COVID?) but I guess it’s just my body’s way of slowing it down to meet the needs of my body. It seems that it was not so long ago I would run four miles on the treadmill at the YMCA and then do a 45-minute high impact class without a problem. Now when I bounce or jump, I have to tinkle.

Remember when you started doing aerobics, when there were no high or low impact aerobics? We all jumped around, got our heart rates up to 180 to 200 beats per minute (bpm) and thought nothing of it? Picture a class of healthy young women wearing sweat bands with their pony tails bouncing who paused —very briefly, but still walking around — to take their pulses…and then it was back to jumping knee lifts.

Has your endurace through your ’60s decreased just a bit? (don’t tell me yours hasn’t, because I don’t want to hear from you!) If you’ve been a runner your entire adult life, maybe you aren’t doing 8-minute miles anymore. Maybe you’ve actually worn out the cartiledge in your knee and have had one or both knees “done.” 

Or you may be like me. I went from starting to run in my sixth decade for a 9-minute mile to walking 4 mph on the treadmill to walking one mile on same treadmill (I tell myself I’m bored with it even though I’m reading my Kindle while walking). When I was swimming back during my 50s, I could do 20 laps no problem. But not having done any swimming for a decade put a crimp on my endurance and now one lap is good for a breather before I start again.

And finally, those Zumba and high/low exercise classes where I bounced along with the best of them? I’m a proud member of the low-impact group. 

Frustrated at first, I learned that this is how my body works now. And it’s okay. I still get the exercise and the camaraderie — and I don’t have to tinkle. 

So for those of us who become grumpy thinking about how our bodies are abandoning us, here are some facts from GoodRx Health:

Many of us already know that the resting heart rate for most people is about 60 to 100 pbm. And resting means before you get out of bed and prior to our first cup of coffee. To heck with those elite athletes with resting bpms of 30!

Our target heart rate, which we aim to sustain during exercise, is dependent on exercise intensity and is a percentage of our max heart rate (below). Depending on exercise intensity, it could range from 50% to 85% of our maximum heart rate.  

Target heart rate averages by age. 

      Age Target HR Zone 50-85% Average Maximum Heart Rate, 100%
20 years 100-170 beats per minute (bpm) 200 bpm
30 years 95-162 bpm 190 bpm
35 years 93-157 bpm 185 bpm
40 years 90-153 bpm 180 bpm
45 years 88-149 bpm 175 bpm
50 years 85-145 bpm 170 bpm
55 years 83-140 bpm 165 bpm
60 years 80-136 bpm 160 bpm
65 years 78-132 bpm 155 bpm
70 years 75-128 bpm 150 bpm

Our maximum heart rate, the highest our heart rates should be during exercise, or how intense we’re exercising, is based on age for most people. You can calculate it by subtracting your age from 220 (don’t ask my why), according to the CDC. Think of singles tennis, vigorous dancing, swimming laps, jogging or running, jumping rope, kickboxing. So if you’re 50 years old, your maximum heart rate is 220 minus 50, or 170 bpm, dependent on many factors, such as health, weight, etc. 

Of course I would be negligent not to include some disclaimers to exercising without any limitations, especially for those with personal or medical histories who have an increased risk for heart or circulation problems during exercise like:

  • A history of smoking 
  • A high body weight
  • Diabetes
  • High cholesterol
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • And anything else that would impact how you can exercise

Of course you should contact your PCP before starting a new exercise program. And be sure to seek medical advice if you experience a dangerous heart rate associated with chest pain, severe shortness of breath, nausea or vomiting, or dizziness; greater than your maximum heart rate, lower than your usual resting heart rate, very high for unknown reasons, or your heart beat becomes irregular or erraatic. ANY QUESTIONS AT ALL, contact medical support. This article is more about my experiences and “typical” folks who are healthy (whatever that means).

So I’ve lost my bounce and I’m okay with it, although I do ocassionally look at those young girls, with the swishy ponytails who are letting it rip during hi-impact routines, and sigh.


You can reach Annette Kurman at annette.kurman@gmail.com