Boomers keep fitness industry feelin' groovy

Mon Feb 2, 2009 9:48am EST
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By Dorene Internicola

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - It is the dusking of the Age of Aquarius.

And as the generation that wouldn't trust anyone over 30 enters their 60's, the fitness industry is singing "You've Got a Friend" to all 77.5 million of them.

"Baby boomers are a booming population. Their numbers are expected to increase by about 25 percent in the next eight years," said Kara Thompson, of the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA).

Boomers span ages 43 to 61, approximately. With the U.S. Administration on Aging reporting that 77 percent of all financial assets in the United States are held by those 50 and older, it's like the poet said: "You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows."

Thompson said an a survey by IHRSA, which promotes fitness through education and sports club membership, showed that gym membership among the 55+ group in the United States jumped from 1.5 million in 1987 to 9.9 million in 2007.

"It is estimated that in this year alone, Boomers will spend over $70 billion on ways to stave off the aging process," she added.

As we age, tendons and muscles shorten, bones lose calcium and lungs lose elasticity, writes Vonda Wright, M.D., in her new book, "Fitness After 40."

But that's just the bad news.   Continued...

<p>People pose for a photo during an exercise class in this undated handout in Phoenix, Arizona. REUTERS/Ken Easley/Handout</p>