Functional fitness programs help you strengthen the muscles you typically use in daily activities of living. Functional fitness is especially important as you age. You may take things like stair-climbing, standing, reaching and bending for granted now. You won’t when your ability to undertake these tasks is diminished.
Maintaining a level of functional fitness contributes to quality of living and independence. It also improves balance and reduces the risk of injury from falls, often more common with aging. Many gyms offer functional fitness programs for a variety of levels. You can also add functional fitness to your home workout routine. Here are a few exercises to incorporate now.
Squats – these help us with regular activities like sitting, standing and bending.
Stand with feet hip-width apart. Bend from your knees as if you are about to sit down in a chair. Hold for a few seconds and slowly rise to standing.
Squats with dumbbell press (or overhead medicine ball reach)
Stand with feet hip width apart and a dumbbell in each hand. Bend as if about to sit in a chair, come up and press weight together overhead. If you are using a medicine ball, lift above your head as you rise to a fully standing position. Adding the medicine ball or dumbbells helps you strengthen the muscles you use for reaching and carrying.
Just like it sounds, take the stairs. Stair climbing helps you build or maintain muscle tone and strength in your legs. This is definitely a case of “use it or lose it” so take the stairs whenever you can, you will burn a few extra calories when you skip the elevator, too.
Triceps dips make it easier to keep reaching and carrying as you age. They age help rid you of the dreaded batwings. Place your hands shoulder-width apart on a stable chair. Position your bottom in front of the chair with your legs extended out in front of you. With elbows held a bit loosely, place your arms on the chair. Bend your elbows to lower your body toward the floor until your elbows are at about a 90-degree angle. Keep your back close to the bench. Once you reach the bottom of the movement, press down into the bench to straighten your elbows, returning to the starting position. This completes one rep, complete for desired number of reps.
Planks build full body strength. To do a plank, get into push up position. Keeping your back, legs and spine straight (you should resemble a plank), lift your body so that it is held up by your toes and forearms. Hold for at least 15 seconds. Go longer as you get stronger.
Maintaining functional fitness is important for healthy aging and will contribute to overall quality of life. Take at least ten minutes per day to do a few functional fitness exercises. Remember it comes done to use it or lose it. Do this now so you reduce the risk of losing it later.