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You’re never too old

October 25, 2008

Day after day I work with people with an average age of probably over 80. Many of my patients are in the late 80’s early 90’s. A few are in their 70’s and early 80’s. On occasion someone will be younger than 70. Right now, I have one patient under age 70. My oldest pt right now is 92. My most memorable patient was around 85 and hadn’t walked for TWO YEARS. He was not even able to move his legs without someone doing most, if not all, of the movement for him. He now is able to walk about 10 feet. Might not seem like much to you, but for a guy at that age who hasn’t walked for two years, it’s a huge deal. It means the difference from being able to stand up after getting off the toilet to pull up your pants even.

Anyway, what I’m getting at is that elderly doesn’t mean there’s not a chance to build strength. I believe that the elderly are the biggest portion of the population who have the most potential to become stronger. I’m not saying someone at 85 will become the next world champ heavy lifter or anything, just saying the potential gains in strength for someone at that age are enormous.

Elderly people with increased strength are less likely to spend time in nursing homes, have falls, break bones (usually from falling)… Being strong is a good indicator of better health and well-being.

I encourage anyone, at ANY age, to see their doctor and be cleared for weight lifting. If I had gone into personal training, I’d love to have focused on the aging population. Maybe someday I will go back and get that personal training certificate. Instead I went into the realm of physical therapy as a physical therapist assistant.

And I encourage all you younger people to get and stay strong so that some physical therapist doesn’t slap 2# weights on your ankles day after day making you repeat 30 reps that serve little strength building function. I love the feild I’m in, just wish that my coworkers weren’t so afraid to put out some heavier weights. In my opinion, when 15 reps is easy, that weight is way to low.

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