Boom Generation Fitness

Mind - body fitness and health strategies for powering thru later years

The blog is aimed at the generation that was born between 1946 and 1964 - the so-called Baby Boomers.

We are now into our middle-age and very interested in staying fit and healthy until well into our senior years.

This blog provides some of the tools to do just that. You can find posts here and lots more by clicking on the links to THINK FIT and THE FITNESS PAPERS (see left side column).

These pages are about any and all matters concerning wellness, mind, body and spirit and, of course, physical exercise of all sorts. A special feature is an emphasis on individuals who can provide examples for us all of a healthy, energetic and positive life.


Geoff Quartermaine Bastin

More about who I am on:

Thursday, December 31, 2009


About half of us could not care less about checking on our health. These people endanger themselves, not just by an early death, but from years of disease and discomfort before they die. By ignoring what their body could tell them they give up the possibility of the quality and joy of life as they age. And, by the way, they impose an enormous and growing burden on our economies by doing so.

I asked users of the LinkedIn network (the social/business networking site – www. what they did about monitoring their blood profiles (lipids, glucose and other key markers) so they could get early warning of disease and so take preventive action, hopefully through adjusting their lifestyles. I thought that this would be something that an overwhelming majority of the LI community (mainly educated middle class professionals) would do routinely. Well…mmmmmh…… not really.

In fact, only a small majority of the LI users that answered my question bother with any kind of health check up and some of those are in the nature of “well maybe once a year”. Roughly half of a sample of folks, all who may be expected to be able to afford regular preventive tests and check-ups and to know their value, simply prefer to ignore the fact that they might fall ill.

Human nature? Fear of knowing the answer? Perhaps. But I find this a depressing result in an age where so many so-called ‘modern” diseases (Type 2 diabetes, stroke, heart disease, cancer) can be dealt with effectively if they are caught early. These diseases also present a massive burden on our industrialized economies – hence the urgent need to reform health care in the USA.

The result of my little survey suggests that selling preventive health care is a real uphill struggle; if this is what so-called educated well-off people think, what on earth about the huge majority who will continue to stuff themselves with beer, donuts and fries and smoke a pack a day? But without preventive medicine - and taking responsibility for our own wellbeing - we are surely in for a major health care crisis in the industrialized economies.

To read the full report on the survey go to The Fitness Papers via the button in the left hand column.

Monday, December 28, 2009


Should we be packing down the protein? We all know that there are three main building blocks of nutrition: carbohydrate, protein and fat. But one of the most difficult things to get right in any diet is balance between the three. There are a huge number of diets that suggest a balance towards carbs, while others (Atkins for example) say you have to hit the protein hard. Another point of view is that human nutrition is so complex that so-called “nutrient splitting” will never provide the right answer; in this case the way to go is to adopt successful diets from places where more common “industrialized” diseases (such as Type 2 diabetes) are not found. These are the diets from the ‘cold zones’ where modern diseases are less.

Because the subject of “too many carbs” or “not enough protein” comes up all the time, it may be helpful to try and discover and discuss some of the arguments.

I’ve taken two authorities whom I respect but who say diametrically opposite things about protein. Ellington Darden PhD. (author of various books on bodybuilding and a PhD nutritionist) says, “…we know from long-term animal studies that high protein diets will shorten life spans.” Darden says that consuming any food will not build muscle; what builds muscle is exercise that stimulates the growth of muscle fibers that then draw on the available nutrients to grow.

Now for the other side of the picture: Dr Scott Connelly is a medical doctor, the author of a best selling book, ‘Body Rx’ and the inventor of a (protein) dietary supplement ‘Met-Rx’, According to Connelly’s ‘6-Pack Prescription Daily Rrequirements’ a 200 pound man needs 200 grams of protein per day. In terms of an easy to use measure, a 20 gram serving of any kind of protein looks about the size of a deck of cards. This is a LOT more than the standard Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of between 60 and 80 grams/day.

I’ve taken a look at the science, and the results of my study are available by clicking on The Fitness Papers in the left hand column of this blog. Follow through and find the paper, ‘Protein – Just How Much?’ Or just click on this link:

I found no evidence whatsoever that large amounts of extra protein do anything but pass directly through the body causing needless physical stress to vital organs. Your body gets about half of the amino acids needed to keep the body working and to build cells from ingesting protein, the rest it manufactures itself. The key point is you need to maintain a balance of these chemicals by consuming a normal balanced diet that includes protein from a variety of sources. The body cannot store excess protein. It must process it into the required amounts of amino acids and the rest gets changed into fat or excreted. Large amounts of protein work the kidneys and liver far too hard. Protein leaches the calcium out of the bones and is believed to be a prime cause of osteoporosis in the USA. Furthermore, there is evidence that excess protein makes the body more acidic with the acids accumulating in the joints making for gout or arthritis.

Bottom line: I’ll eat a normal diet with not more than 20% protein - just as recommended by almost all the dieticians and nutritionists and found in most traditional diets – remember our ancestors for most of human history had very limited access to large amounts of protein. But one point in fairness to Dr. Connelly and the Atkins Diet folks: if you are overweight and eat mostly carbs, then you probably do need to consider more protein and re-balancing your diet. However, if you do suffer from a disease and are not normally fit and healthy do please make sure you consult your doctor before making any drastic dietary changes. The key word in all this is “balance” – a balanced diet and a balance of effort between diet and exercise.


Eddie Vernon (on the right here and seen with his brother on the left and fellow competitor Bruno, center) won his class in a national level mountain bike race in Udon Thani in North-east Thailand this December. Here's his report: "The cross country mountain bike race was held at Ban Na Kha, 17km north of Udon Thani city in northeast Thailand on 20 December 2009. The race course was a mix of singletrack and doubletrack mainly across rice fields, down farm tracks, along canal banks and through wooded areas. My brother Tim (aged 49) and I (aged 51) raced two laps of a 17km course (total 34 km). The weather was perfect - dry, sunny and warm (not hot). I came first out of 12 riders in the 50 - 54 age group and my brother came 6th out of 14 riders in the 45 - 49 age group; it was his first mountain bike race. The first 7 riders in each age group won a cup. I also won some prize money of 1,500 baht About (US$47). My French friend, Bruno (age 43 - in the center of the photo) from Vientiane and his Thai friend, came equal first out of 12 riders in the 40 - 44 age group, though since only one rider could receive a trophy for first place, Bruno accepted second place". We think this is pretty amazing considering Eddie works full-time, often in Afghanistan, and Thailand is not the easiest place to train.

Friday, November 20, 2009


Did you know that physical activity can generate new brain cells? I didn't until I read 'The Plastic Mind' (with a foreword by the Dalai Lama) by Sharon Begley who is a science correspondent at 'Newsweek' magazine covering neuroscience. Conventional wisdom long held that the brain's main components - neurons - are pretty much fixed in quantity after we become adults. Sure, the connections between the neurons were known to change with memory and learning, but the circuits were thought to be fixed. Extensive research begun in the late 1990s however showed that this is not the case. Part of the brain, the dentate gyrus (in the hippocampus - which deals with long-term memory and spatial awareness) produces neural stem cells in people well beyond adulthood. As Begley says, this research overturned generations of conventional wisdom with new neurons being born well into the eighth decade of life. These cells migrate to existing structures where they weave themselves into existing brain circuitry. So the wiring layout that gets established at about 20 years old does stay in place, but can and does get renewed, something that is hugely exciting for victims of stroke or head trauma.

Now what is truly exciting is that it was found that an "enriched" environment including exercise led to a much greater number of new neural cells being produced. To quote the scientist concerned, Fred Gage, "We think voluntary exercise increases the number of neural stem cells that divide and give rise to new neurons in the hippocampus" (page 81). His work was supported by Brian Christie of the University of British Columbia who found that the individual neurons in the exercise group have more dentrites (the projections through which the neurons receive signals) and that each dendrite had more spines, representing a site where a connection can occur. The research showed that there are physical, structural reasons in the brain why learning and memory capacities are enhanced through exercise.

And another thing: the hippocampus is one of the first areas of the brain to be affected by Altzheimer's Disease; memory problems and disorientation appear among the first symptoms. Even normal, healthy aging is associated with a gradual decline in some types of memory, including episodic memory and working memory.

The science of all this is obviously highly complex, but on the surface it suggests that physical activity and reducing stress (The hippocampus contains high levels of mineralcorticoid receptors which make it more vulnerable to long-term stress than most other brain areas) both have significantly beneficial impacts on brain function as we get older.

This fascinating book has a lot more to say, especially about the mind-body issue, and I'll be writing a full review shortly.

Note: this is relatively old science now, and it's astonishing that it comes to prominence in 2009 with this book. New work from North Carolina State University have identified a gene that tells embryonic stem cells in the brain when to stop producing nerve cells called neurons. The research is a significant advance in understanding the development of the nervous system, which is essential to addressing conditions such as Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease and other neurological disorders. Check out

References: 'The Plastic Mind' Sharon Begley, Constable, 2009, ISBN: 978-1-84529-674-2
P.S. Eriksson, E. Perfilieva, T.Bjork-Eriksson, A.M. Alborn, C. Nordberg, D.A. Peterson, F.H. Gage, 'Neurogenesis in the Adult Human Hippocampus', Nature Medicine, 4, 1998
H.van Praag, A.F. Schinder,, B.R.Christie, N.Toni,T.D.Palmer, F.H.Gage, 'Functional Neurogenesis in the Adult Hippocampus', Nature 415, 2002

Sunday, November 15, 2009


I asked the following question on LinkedIn: “Are the Over-50s really interested in fitness and health?” The question went on: “I wonder if the Baby Boom generation….. is really into health and fitness? I spend a LOT of time in gyms and I hardly see anyone my age....” You can see the full Question and Answer via my profile on LinkedIn at

Some folks thought this was an attack on them and the reactions were pretty irritated and defensive. Chris Prior Jones mistook me for a young guy having a go at the oldies and wrote,”We're really into fitness, you know! The reasons you don't see us are:

1 - The flaunting in the gym by you non-boomers of your sleek well toned physiques makes us extremely self conscious of our ancient sagging flesh

2 - We prefer to work out in the REAL world! Yes, open to the elements, braving the cold, rain, heat, dust, mud, difficult terrain etc. None of the airconditioned, muzak enhanced, information overloaded, expensive gym memberships for us!

I clarified what I was after like this: “I'm getting the sense that older (plus-50) people want a completely different approach from the 'multi-machine, disco pumping' glossy fitness centers full of yuppies who socialize as much as they work out. Is this fair comment?

It seems that it was, and it seems that the overwhelming majority of folks that answered were aggressively into fitness and health, but not necessarily the way I perhaps expected them to be.

Judy Margolis wrote, “I'd say that what separates Boomers from earlier generations is their endless quest to stave off old age, and that means they are extremely interested in health and fitness.”

Grant Epstein’s comment was rather typical of people who can’t answer an honest question politely, but he still made an interesting point, “I think your comment is based on at best limited perspective and at worst, absolute ignorance. The last time I belonged to a traditional gym, I would say a good 25-30% of the people I saw when working out early in the AM were over 50…..If you belong to a "traditional" gym, perhaps the gym does not cater to the over 50 market. Does it have a nice track to walk on? How about a swimming pool (great exercise, less impact on joints). Are their classes geared toward the over 50 market? Maybe your workout leans more towards that of a younger person.

It’s a fair point about the kind of thing that’s on offer and echoes Chris’ concern about comparisons with tight young bodies.

Joel William, who says she is a physical therapist, wrote: …although not all "Baby Boomers" are interested in health and fitness there is a significant amount that are and want to continue to be involved in exercise. These active boomers are not just playing golf either. They are avid cyclists, runners, swimmers and hikers. I refer to them as geezer jocks. I often see them after injury and their goal is not to settle down, but to get this fixed and return to their high level of sporting activity.

The comment I liked best was from Andrea Williams who said: “the importance of health and fitness is an innate quality, something you are born with. One of my personal goals before I turned 50 was to complete 30 marathons which I did. Now that I have turned 50, I was debating whether to continue to run marathons. However, my innate desire to keep in shape (both physically and mentally) got the better of me, and I just completed my 31st marathon at age 50. There are lots of older adults 50+ who enjoy running, and keep fit even and I am always amazed and humbled to see people in their 70s and older at local running events. I just hope that I can follow their wonderful example someday.”..

This seems to summarize exactly what this blog is about.

Other people like Charlene Norman work out at home: “I belong to the 50 set and still refuse to admit publicly my true age. I did the gym thing for a few years and found it exhausting with work etc. (okay handy excuse I agree) Like many of my similarly aging friends, I have equipment at home (pilates machine) which I prefer to use on my terms and at my convenience rather than rushing to the gym. Several friends of mine are in 50/60/70s and they have opted for either a home gym or using the gym in their condos. They prefer the privacy and the convenience and their own silence or music.

Pretty clearly the over-50s that answered were quick to tell me that they were very conscious of fitness and health and a good few thought I was absolutely wrong to even suggest otherwise. That’s a great result (based admittedly on a very small sample – only 16 answers).

What’s my conclusion? The answer seems to be multi-faceted; partly to do with the way conventional fitness centers are run and partly to do with a lot of attitudes learned when we were younger before the 'fitness boom'; time and family commitments also play their parts. I’m enthusiastic about health and I’m sorry if my enthusiasm gets me carried away, and I certainly don’t mean to “hector” as Dr Susan Schwartz said (we became friends later!) but I do think that we over-50's needn't give in to ageing...that’s the reason for this blog!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


I just asked the following question on LinkedIn: "I wonder if the Baby Boom generation (roughly born 1946 to '64 - but let's say anyone over 50) is really into health and fitness? I spend a LOT of time in gym's and I hardly see anyone my age.... I also run a blog and don't get the feedback I thought I would (Ok, maybe it's a crap blog!). Any feedback (especially from those in the frame) would greatly help me target my efforts to get more people interested. From a professional point of view, I believe physical and mental health is critical, more so as you age. Why don't more firms see this and incenntivize their staff accordingly and why don't the post-50s get it?". I'll post the answers. By the way, LinkedIn is a useful tool. especially for business and professionals and has a 'health' category for asking questions/getting answers from a wide network. Check out

Monday, September 28, 2009


The Moringa (moringa oleifera) is a commonly found tree growing throughout tropical Africa and Asia. It is another of those "super plants" for which there are quite dramatic claims, but in this case the people of these regions have voted with their stomachs, because Moringa products are growing in popularity and gaining ground even outside the village, where most poor people have recognized that almost all the tree's parts can be used beneficially either as food or medicine. Among other products, the leaves and fruits (in pods) can be consumed fresh as a protein and vitamin rich vegetable and the oil can be used as a healing ointment or even as a cosmetic or for cooking. In powder form (usually in capsules) the leaves are becoming an important dietary supplement. My partner, Thanyatorn Sawangjareanwat, makes the powder capsules by hand from leaves from trees grown on her land in Thailand. It's a time consuming process, including gathering and drying the leaves, removing stems and other debris, grinding the powder (currently in a coffee grinder!) and filling the capsules. She provides capsules to family members and to monks in the local Buddhist temple and swears that since taking the capsules a chronic knee injury (from marathon running) has disappeared. More information about Moringa (pronounced "maroom" in Thai) can be found at the Moringa News Network at (from which the picture above was copied - thanks for this photo to Dr Armelle de Saint Sauveur, founder of Moringa News Network).

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


This great book, 'Fantastic Voyage' by Kurzweil and Grossman (see the website on has really changed my life. I'll review the book in detail on the 'Think Fit' page (see link) but I want to tell what an impact the book has had on how I look at myself - near age 60 and thinking I was doing OK fitness-wise. Boy, did the book make me change that point of view! I've always concetrated on simple physical fitness (especially through resistance training) and neglected the real objective - keeping the entire biological machine running at optimum levels so I can live long and fruitfully. So reading this was a shock to discover that there was a wealth of things I neglected, especially in my case diet. Equally, I guess I didn't understand or bother with enough of the basic mechanics of how the machine works and the battery of tests you should do to ensure that you are getting the right picture of what's happening to you. I've changed: cut the coffee, switched to green tea, focused on low glycemic load foods (to name only a few changes) and plugged in other tests (e.g. homocysteine level - check out the book) to my regular check up. This team have written another book 'Transcend' which I haven't got to yet, but it's on my priority reading list.

Friday, July 17, 2009


CHECK OUT 'SAVVY HEALTH AND FITNESS' - the image is from this excellent site ( and the site has a wealth of useful info on what you must know about cholestrol. The one thing I've learned from a number of sources is that the key indicator is the CHOLESTROL RATIO - the ratio of 'good' HDL to total cholestrol.

My total cholestrol level is 122, divided by my HDL level of 35, gives a ratio of 3.5 - which is about the higheest level you want to have and not be at risk of a heart attack. (NB: the 'extremists', Kurzweil and Grossman say 2.5 is the highest level you should have). But my total cholestrol level is very low (some would say too low) so I think I'm OK. Check out these metrics, they can save your life.

Saturday, July 11, 2009


OUCH!!! Those who know me know that I'm no wimp or hypochondriac (well, not much of one!)........ But I'm here to say that my recent bout of virus, allergy or whatever the hell it was REALLY HURT!!!! Not just the cough and dripping nose, but that fact that concurrently my knees swelled up like ballons so I could hardly walk. The left went back to normal quite quickly, but the right turned into chronic pain I believe as a result of walking with a limp and then straining a tendon. What ever this was bore some investigation. My family has a genetic predisposition to arthritis, so this was something to worry about.

A search of the Net found there is such a thing as "Infectious Septic Arthritis" . The link is To quote, "Infectious arthritis is caused by a germ that travels through the body to a joint. The germ can be a bacterium, virus, or fungus. The germ can enter the body though the skin, nose, throat, ears, or through an open wound. Most often, infectious arthritis develops after an existing infection anywhere in the body travels through the bloodstream to a joint.".

What's the treatment? In my case anti-biotic (Ciporoxyl) and anti-allergy drugs, bed rest and lots of stretching and massage to try and get the right leg back in play. The good news? I suppose that this was a result of an infection and not some longer term disease.

Saturday, May 02, 2009


The World Tranhumanist Association says it is "for the ethical use of technology to extend human capabilities". It's link is

I'm intrigued by this, so I've just joined the Association as a subscriber via their website.  As the father of a brain damaged son (result of a car injury that has left him with severe dyspraxia) I'm absolutely interested in what technology can do when it is combined with the human "meat machine".  I hope that my son (aged 25) will be around when implanted nano-chips can restore him to what he was.  And I'm also pretty interested in seeing how technology can extend MY life or make it better than it was! I've already had an intraocular lens replacement in my left eye that leaves me with better sight (and no need to wear a contact lens) than I've ever had.  Best $2,000 (in Bangkok) that I ever spent! What else can be replaced? More on this exciting subject to come.