I was speaking to a 58 year old woman the other day who was fairly new to exercise. We were talking about the limitations we place upon ourselves because of age. I published some comments about “limitations” nearly two years ago on August 5th, 2014. It’s a good time to review what we consider to be our physical limits as Seniors and recognize that they don’t have to be limits at all. I have significantly revised and rewritten that article and am reiterating it’s main points below.
“Know your limits.” “You have no limits.” You hear these statements all the time from Motivational Speakers and Self-improvement gurus. Do you have limits? Are they real limitations? While there may not be any limits in the world of motivational speakers, there are real limits on what your physical body can do.
Let’s explore the topic of limits: What they are. Are real, and . . . Can we ever get back the effortless and unrestricted movement that we seemingly once had? I’ll bet we can regain a lot more than we think we can. It takes time and work, but we can do it.
What causes some of the limits? Rusty Joints mostly. Atrophied muscles (loss of muscle size and strength). Degenerated bones. Pessimistic attitude.
While all too often our limits are self-created and self-imposed, there are real physical limits to what we can do at any given time or place. As we age, the capacities of our bodies decrease without movement and proper fuel.
Let’s say you have a difficult time getting down onto the floor and getting back up again. This is typically a self-imposed limitation that can be a real problem if not addressed. There may be any number of reasons but the most prevalent are:
- Weak leg and core muscles
- Poor joints
- Negative attitude
All four can be overcome or worked around if you really want to get down and up from the floor. Here’s how: Lose weight, strengthen your legs and core muscles, rejuvenate your joints, and then — do it — a couple of times a day, just for the heck of it. There are a number of trainers and physical therapists who can help you. Go find them, or find an exercise method that addresses strength and mobility and is easy on the joints. Practice.
The same applies to any physical limitation you may think you have. Most limitations are created and perpetuated by your mind. It all starts with the way you’re thinking. We often limit what we can do simply by saying, and often believing, our own excuses:
- I’m too old
- My bones aren’t strong enough to hold a position.
- My doctor told me not to (huh?)
- I’ll never be able to do that.
- There’s no way I could ever do that.
- I just don’t have the energy.
Who was it that said: “Whether you believe you can, or believe you can’t, you’re right.” Too many people look at these excuses as valid and the physical limits as permanent. Correcting your perceived limitations won’t happen overnight but by following a good exercise method, you’ll see a big improvement right at the beginning. Then, of course, a plateau, and then another round of improvement. Your own body will tell you when you have reached your real physical limits.
Don’t expect to get the flexibility, mobility, joints, ligaments, tendons and muscles of a Cirque de Soleil performer or a Chinese Acrobat. This is well beyond the scope of anything I want to suggest. But you can steadily increase your own strength, mobility, flexibility, range of motion and reach what nature intended your body to be able to do.
In the words of Nicolai Amosov, the famous Ukrainian Surgeon, Scientist, Fitness author, and Exercise Physiologist: “So, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, the experiment continues! We are pushing pessimism back. Limits for old men [and women] are abolished. Life is a pretty good thing after all.”
Thanks for reading.