ST. LUKE’S UNIVERSITY HEALTH NETWORK
Bob Limons is living proof it is never impossible to exercise, regardless of your physical limits or your age.
Limons, 91, drives from Wild Cherry Knoll retirement community in Lower Macungie Township to St. Luke’s Fitness & Sports Performance Center in Allentown four times a week to work out in a medically-based exercise program designed specifically for him.
“For all the conditions I have, I’d say I have a pretty good quality of life,” Limons said.
Limons battles chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, degenerative arthritis in his spine and joints, a faulty aortic valve under constant watch for repair or replacement, atrial fibrillation, an aortic aneurysm and macular degeneration.
And those conditions don’t stop him from being active.
“He’s a workout machine,” John Graham, senior director, Fitness & Sports Performance at St. Luke’s University Health Network said. “He’s probably one of the nicest people we meet, and he exercises as a way of keeping himself going and keeping himself active.”
Limons’ medical issues mean he doesn’t work out like people in their 50s and 60s. His COPD makes upper body work extremely limited. He can’t really lift weights or use machines that involve the chest muscles.
“Bending over is a real problem,” Limons said. “Anything that compresses the diaphragm causes me to get short of breath. This has left me unable to do ordinary things like carrying garbage to the sidewalk, which can leave me out of breath.”
Limons, who lives with Margaret, his wife of 68 years, developed COPD after years of working with asbestos and asbestos-substitute materials working for Babcock & Wilcox as well as Bethlehem Steel.
Because of the issues Limons encounters when engaging his chest and diaphragm in everyday activities, Graham and his colleagues at St. Luke’s Fitness and Sports Performance Center designed a medically-based workout to improve blood flow and maintain conditioning in those areas.
Limons uses a NuStep machine involving the legs and arms in unison, uses resistance bands for stretching his legs against resistance and performs a variety of other exercises specific to his abilities. More recently, he’s developed blood circulation issues in his legs, and Brian Zarbatany, director, fitness, personal training and group exercise at St. Luke’s, has made strategic changes to the program.
Graham said Limons’ exercise program is designed around increasing blood flow to the joints and capacity of the heart muscle in order to maintain and improve an active life. He adds the key to fitness for people like Limons is to use a medically-based approach to fitness.
“What makes St. Luke’s a lot different than going to a commercial facility is that we tailor programs geared toward an individual’s health instead of just helping a person lose weight or gain lean body mass,” Graham said.
Graham said research proves that even people with a history of health problems benefit from a medically-based exercise program designed to maintain every day functionality, health and well-being despite the physical challenges they face.
“I think the bottom line is that Bob Limons is living proof that if you take care of yourself, regardless of your past history, you can improve your quality of life well into your later years,” Graham said.
“I’m religious about getting to the gym at least four times a week,” Limons said. “I know that if I don’t do this, I’m going to be in big trouble, so I keep doing the workout, and I do feel good after I finish it.”