Staying active and fit in a path to success

BoomerCafé is for baby boomers with active lifestyles. That’s why we find this piece, written for BoomerCafé by physical therapist Patrice Winter, so relevant. Because we are active, and we want to stay active, and she offers a path to success. And that’s because Patrice is the campaign spokesperson for the American Physical Therapy Association’s “Fit After 50.”

Now that I’m approaching the big 6-0, I often wonder how I got here so fast. And then I ask, “How can I make this body last?”

As a health educator, I know that at age 20, the average heart pumps five liters of blood per minute; at age 60, it pumps 3.5 liters. When I was 20, I could swim 100 yards in one minute. Now I swim 50 yards in one minute. At age 80 when my heart is able to pump 2.5 liters a minute, I plan to still be able to cover that same 100 yards. It will take longer to cover the same distance, but so what?

As a physical therapist, I have been an active observer of the ways people use their bodies and how well—or not—their bodies adapt to challenges. Early on, I committed myself to pursuing an active, healthy lifestyle, and, fortunately, my efforts seem to have paid off.

We need to challenge our musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, and cognitivesystems as well as be kind to our bodies. Keep in mind that wesustain damage more easily now, and our bodies are less resilient. Flexibility, strength, endurance, and balance are the four “fitness basics” on which we need to focus.

Every day I find opportunities to engage in activities that include at least two of those four fitness basics. For instance, walking can provide all four basics, depending on the distance and surfaces covered. I also add swimming, yoga, and cycling. Activity gets the muscles moving and makes them more flexible, which in turn gets the heart pumping, which then oxygenates the blood and better “feeds” the brain. By “paying it forward” and actively participating in life now, I feel I will be better prepared for the challenges of the inevitable “aging thing.”

It is rare to find a boomer who has not been injured a time or two over his or her lifetime. As experts in restoring and improving motion, physical therapists can help boomers develop exercise programs or modify existing programs to help avoid injury or adapt to previous injuries, chronic conditions, or limited motion.

Upon retirement, we may have another 20–30 years to enjoy an “encore” career. I plan to be an active participant in mine!

For more information and to find a physical therapist in your area, please visit


  1. Thanks for the advice. exercise has become a dirty word to so many, but the key is just to keep moving, and as you said, walking is one of the best ways to stay in shape and feel good about yourself.

  2. Thanks for a great article, Patrice. Keeping a fire lit under us is one of the most important parts of aging.

    Boomers in my gym fall into either maintaining their conditioning, or injuring themselves by pushing the envelope. They either don’t challenge themselves enough, or do too much. It’s a fine line.

    You know your audience when you say, “Activity gets the muscles moving and makes them more flexible, which in turn gets the heart pumping, which then oxygenates the blood and better “feeds” the brain.”


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