Did you know that by 2030 there will be more than 71 million people who are age 65 and older? But the goal isn’t only to live longer; it’s to live longer and healthier. To stay active as long as possible. If we are going to be living longer, we have to plan now to do everything in our power to maintain our functional abilities, which in turn will maintain quality of life.
Well, the good news is that with lifelong physical activity, healthy eating, and some very specific functional training, we can age happily ever after and maintain a quality of life that lets us enjoy those extra years to the fullest.
Simply put, functional training is a classification of exercise that involves training the body for the activities performed in daily life, from carrying groceries inside the or hiking for two hours to something as simple as being dexterous enough to button a sweater or limber enough to bend over gardening. Functional training involves patterns of sensory input and processing, movement, and specific fitness.
To be effective, functional training and all of its aspects, such as resistance or fine motor skills training, must be progressive. This type of training requires an initial assessment to determine your functional needs and is structured for individualization.
When we functionally train, we set specific goals we want to achieve or maintain. Within the scope of functional training, we also perform exercises, including lots of core engagement. A lot of attention is also given to balance, including reactive balance challenges and surprise perturbation, where reaction is required to maintain or regain balance. It is also important to work on stability, range of motion, and reaching ability. To those ends we do exercises involving pushing, pulling, lowering, rising, rotation, etc. You may take for granted now being able to reach for an item on the top shelf, but many older people struggle with it because of loss of mobility and balance issues.
In functional training, we cover locomotion (i.e., aspects of moving from point A to point B safely), and we do exercises to enhance our cardiorespiratory output, so that activities such as climbing stairs, going shopping safely, hiking, and gardening do not have to be increasingly difficult as we age.
There are many training options to choose from, including resistance bands, Pilates Reformer, Tower, and CoreAligner (which are all available at my studio). It doesn’t matter which system(s) you use, all of them will help you to maintain joint mobility and, just as importantly, flexibility, from your smallest joints and muscles to your biggest. So you can navigate tiny buttons as easily as walking up a steep hill.
Remember; functional training greatly promotes personal independence, health, and quality of life, so make it part of your daily fitness regimen.
Magdalena is the owner of the Be Fit Fit Personal Training Studio (www.befitfit.biz). Visit her “Be Fit Fit” blog at www.verdenews.com.