I’m Too Old For This…

If you know me, you probably know that I love 80s and 90s action movies.

Is the acting sometimes suspect? Yes.

Are the scenes usually over dramatic? Yes.

Are they generally corny? Yes.

Do I still love them? Yes!!

One of the classic sagas from that era is Lethal Weapon. As you may be familiar with the series, I won’t go into too much details. If you’re not, what are you waiting for?

Throughout the series, one of the main characters (played by Danny Glover) is Roger Murtaugh. He is an aging police officer and is looking forward to retirement. Whenever there is a lot of physical activity required of Murtaugh, there is a scene where he states, “I’m getting too old for this ____.” (I’ll leave the last bit blank. This is a family show I’m running here.”

As I write this article, Murtaugh comes to mind. It seemed like an appropriate way to start this article because at some point we all start to feel like Murtaugh did in these movies.

The older we get, it seems like the less we can do. But, is age really to blame?

It is important to remember that correlation is not the same as causation.

A quick example I recently saw on this was a picture of a sunny, hot day. On that day the person decided ice cream sounded good. They ate their tasty treat, but also got sun burned that day. By looking at this scenario alone, one might think that the ice cream caused them to get sunburned.

However, just because the person had ice cream and also got sun burned (correlation) does not mean ice cream causes sun burns.

It is very important to remember that ice cream does NOT cause sun burns!

So just as we all are getting older, and may also happen to be losing some of our physical abilities. That does not mean that aging is CAUSING the loss of strength, endurance, or balance. Or, at least, it is unlikely to be the only culprit (probably not even the main one).

Everyone knows that the older we get, the more challenging some things become. We seem to have less strength, lose our balance easier, and simply run out of gas quicker. It seems more difficult to enjoy the adventures we used to love.

While it is true that with age (starting around after 30 years old) we begin to lose some muscle mass. On top of that, as we age, reaction times begin to slow down making balancing on uneven terrains more challenging, and we tend to run out of energy a little quicker than we did when we were younger.

While there is merit to the notion that getting older makes a lot of our physical activities more challenging… the real enemy is not simply age itself.

What tends to happen is that our lives begin to get busier and we start pushing our physical fitness off. We spend less time exercising, hiking uneven terrain, or playing in the backyard.

If you have an office job, you may spend hours every day sitting at work, then come home exhausted and sit some more to relax.

Even if you have a physically demanding job, we tend to use up our energy at work on the same specific tasks every day, and don’t challenge ourselves as much as we previously did. Then when we get home, we spend time sitting on the couch in our spare time.

The real enemy isn’t so much that we have gotten older, it’s that we haven’t done certain activities in a long time. When we do, we are sore or can’t perform the task like we used to. It’s not age alone that is the enemy, it’s the fact that we have gone 5, 10, 20 years without doing ‘xyz’ activity.

The good news is that just because we are all getting older (even as you read this), we can almost always improve our physical abilities.

There are countless people that continue doing things like running races, lifting weights, gymnastics, etc well into ages of 80, 90, or even 100. You have probably seen some of these examples in the news or on social media. (I’ll add link at the bottom to a video of a 91 year old doing gymnastics!)

One of the coolest patients I have ever worked with was 104 years old. His daughter (well into her 80s) told me that my patient has worked on houses and flipped them for decades. He finished flipping his last house when he was 102 years old!! Crazy right?!

Some of this may come from genetics, but that’s not the whole story either. What the majority of these people have in common is that they never stopped being active! They spent their entire lives exercising, working, playing, etc.

Age alone is almost never the reason people REALLY can’t be active. It’s the amount of time they have gone without being active that is the real enemy. If we continue to be active, age alone won’t be the thing that keeps you out of your favorite adventures.

In addition to this, one cool thing I have learned as a physical therapist is that with the exception of some medical conditions… We humans can almost always improve strength, endurance, and balance if we work at it.

Now I am not here to say an 80 year old will be as strong as their 20 year old self, however, I am saying that the typical 80 year old can begin an exercise program today and be a lot stronger a month from now.

There are several studies that prove that even after being sedentary for decades, we can still improve our physical health with exercise and activity.

One cool study was done on 70 year old men with sedentary lifestyles. They measured their heart health at the beginning of the study, had them perform a 6 week strength training program, and assessed their heart health after the study.

The findings were remarkable. At the conclusion of the study, the 70 year old men had comparable heart health to 30 year old sedentary men. In 6 weeks, they were able to shave off 4 decades!

Even if you have not been as active as you would like for several years, don’t be afraid to get started. There’s a pretty good chance you can improve you strength, balance, or endurance if you are willing to put in a little work.

I guess the take home message is this… If you feel like you aren’t as strong, run out of steam, or don’t have the balance you’d like to have… don’t rule yourself out because of age!

If getting started is a daunting idea, and not sure how to safely begin… We are happy to help guide you in this journey!

Ask about getting started with a wellness program to safely start your personalized exercise plan by filling out a short form to request a free phone consultation here.

Contact Idaho’s Switchback Direct Physical Therapy to set up a free consultation to learn how we can help!

91 year old doing gymnastics!


Dr. Tyler Burke

DPT, Owner and Founder of Switchback Direct PT

We help injured outdoor enthusiasts to stop hurting and start adventuring.

Want To Get Relief Faster?

Choose which option works best for you

Monday – Friday

8 am – 6 pm

Scroll to Top