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Debilitating Ailments Can’t Keep 91-Year-Old, Fitness-Minded Local Man out of St. Luke’s Gym
December 13, 2017

Bob Limons is living proof that it’s never impossible to exercise, regardless of your physical limits or your age. 

Bob, 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,” says Bob, who battles chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), degenerative arthritis in his spine and joints, a faulty aortic valve under constant watch for repair or replacement, atrial fibrillation, an aortic aneurism, and macular degeneration.

And those conditions don’t stop him from being active.

“He’s a workout machine,” says John Graham, Senior Director, Fitness & Sports Performance at St. Luke's University Health Network. "He’s probably one of the nicest people we meet, and he exercises as a way of keeping himself going and keeping himself active.”

Bob’s 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,” Bob says. “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.”

Robert Limon

Bob, who lives with Margaret, his wife of 68 years, developed COPD for years of working with asbestos and asbestos-substitute materials working for  Babcock & Wilcox as well as Bethlehem Steel.

Because of the issues Bob encountered 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 around that in order to improve blood flow and maintain conditioning in those areas.

Bob 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 says that Bob’s 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 that the key to fitness for people like Bob 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 says.

He adds that research proves that even people with a history of health problems benefit from a medically based exercise program that is designed to maintain every day functionality, health and well-being despite the physical challenged 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 says.

“I’m religious about getting to the gym at least four times a week,” Bob says.  “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.”

Bob Limons, extraordinary at 91!

Media Contact:

Sam Kennedy, Corporate Communications Director, 484-526-4134, samuel.kennedy@sluhn.org

About St. Luke’s

Founded in 1872, St. Luke’s University Health Network (SLUHN) is a fully integrated, regional, non-profit network providing services at seven hospitals and more than 270 outpatient sites in the greater Lehigh Valley. The network’s service area includes 10 counties: Lehigh, Northampton, Carbon, Schuylkill, Bucks, Montgomery, Berks and Monroe counties in Pennsylvania and Warren and Hunterdon counties in New Jersey.  In partnership with Temple University, St. Luke’s created the region’s first and only regional medical school campus. Dedicated to advancing health education, St. Luke’s operates the nation’s oldest School of Nursing and 23 graduate medical educational programs and is considered a major teaching hospital – the only one in its region. Repeatedly, including 2017, St. Luke’s earned Truven’s 100 Top Major Teaching Hospital and 50 Top Cardiovascular Program designations, in addition to other honors for clinical excellence. St. Luke’s is a multi-year recipient of the Most Wired award recognizing the breadth of St. Luke’s information technology applications such as electronic medical records, telehealth, online scheduling and pricing information. St. Luke’s is also recognized as one of the state’s lowest cost providers.