In the 1950's and 1960's I grew up with all the baby boomers. Some of our parents played golf, softball, volleyball and/or they bowled once a week. There were a few dads who played a little hoops. A very few went out to run for exercise. The women seemed to like the idea of getting a thin figure and many exercised with the TV fitness gurus of the time. Some would swim occasionally. I remember a surge of interest in jogging to get fit in the late 60's. Some of the parents were out there trying this option to loose unwanted weight or to try to get back in shape. They did not have 5 K and 10 K races to keep them motivated and there was barely a culture to encourage those few joggers who gave this a try. Most gave this up quickly due to injury or discouragement.
Now in the 2010's life is different! We still have DVD exercise programs that are advertised all over the TV and internet aimed at getting an attractive body but many adult participants are pursuing endurance sports with a focus on health. Unlike bowling or golf once a week, these endurance sports require on-going training just to be a participant. More and more helpful information is being written to help people understand how to start a training program in a way that allows them to progress and strengthen gradually. There are groups to participate with and there are community and national events that give a challenge to participants at all levels of ability. Communities are building running and biking trails and other fitness facilities to encourage a fitness for life opportunity for all of the people, not just the kids!
Everyday moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas are competing in Marathons and ½ Marathon races, biking events, triathlons and many more types of events that require a high level of fitness. After high school, there is no reason to stop being active in sports! Even those who never were in sports as a youth will be able to find leagues and events that are for men or women in many different activities that encourage adults to attain and maintain a high level of fitness.
I sometimes read articles about high percentages of obesity, diabetes and heart disease in our country that are discouraging. Could this surge of adult participation in all of these activities be the change we have been needing? I do think there is hope for the future. Physical activity is strong medicine. The health and fitness culture is growing. Running, walking, cycling and many more healthful activity options are available in our communities. I am encouraged by the numbers of people I see along the trails and in the the fitness clubs or gathered at the start lines of so many races in so many communities.
If you are one that is on the outside of this fitness culture and want to make a change for the health of it, do some reading and get some advice from those who are trained in the field of fitness and from your doctor. Start slowly and carefully so you will reduce the potential for injury. You don't need to compete to get the benefit, but it can be an incentive to strive for a goal of completing a challenge. Find one or two options that fit your needs, location and interests, grab a friend or two and go out there and participate! Those Marathon Moms and Dads started out by walking or jogging one block!
Lynn Benson is the Managing Member of Benson Products, LLC and a retired Physical Education teacher, former Aquatic Supervisor, and the mother of 3 and grandmother of 7. Lynn is the inventor of Splash Count. This article is based on her observations and opinion.