A good functional fitness routine for senior adults can fight off the effects of aging.
As you enter into your older years, the common expression you don’t want to hear is, “You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone”.
It is critical to add elements of functional fitness into your daily routine so that you are maintaining your independence for as long as possible.
Balance, and flexibility are three elements of functional fitness that are hugely important for seniors as they tend to be the first things to go.
Typical strength training routines that you see being performed at the gym, using the machines that isolate one muscle or muscle group at a time, are not good enough for older adults who want to maintain full body fitness.
Strength training is sometimes centered around vanity rather than improving your ability to perform the tasks of everyday life.
When putting together a functional fitness routine for older adults, it is important to strike the right balance between too much and too little.
You need to prevent injuries by not making the routine too hard.
You also want to avoid making a functional fitness routine so easy that it is ineffective and becomes a waste of time.
It is important to assess an individual’s needs and goals when putting together a routine.
Do not waste time performing functional fitness movements that don’t align with your goals.
Most moves for older adults are geared towards maintaining independence of daily living.
A good functional fitness routine for older adults can fight off the effects of aging such as bad balance, slow reaction times, decreased energy, bone loss, dementia and muscle loss (sarcopenia).
There needs to be extra consideration for frail older adults as many seniors are in excellent shape.
“Older adults cannot be lumped into one group.
A lot of commercial gyms are running functional fitness programs for older adults at times of day that are most convenient for them, such as mid-morning and early afternoon.
Staying physically active is a great mental and emotional boost for seniors as maintaining independence is critical for quality of life.
It is empowering for older adults to be able to do the same activities that they did when they were younger.
Here are some functional fitness exercises for older adults who struggle with balance problems.
One activity that is both important and simple is to climb stairs.
- Simply find a safe place that has an un-cluttered and well-lit set of stairs and practice going up and down.
- To make it more difficult, try going up faster and continue going down at a regular pace. There is no need to run down stairs.
- Bring a friend or at least let someone know where you are going if the stairs are in an isolated location.
- Hold a dumbbell in each hand.
- Lift your arms to the sides so you are making a ‘T’.
- Lift you knee so your thigh is parallel with the ground, or just lift it as high as it will go.
- Hold your knee in that position for a brief moment, then lower it so you go back to a normal standing position.
- Keep your arms extended in the ‘T’ position.
- Alternate sides, keeping your back straight.
- To make the move harder, use heavier weights.
- To make the move easier, don’t use any weights at all.
- If you have bad balance, stand by a wall or counter-top that you can touch for support.
- Stand with a chair behind you.
- Keep your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Squat slowly as if you are about to sit down on the chair.
- Lower yourself so that your bum nearly touches the chair but don’t sit.
- Keep your back as straight as possible.
- Stand up.
- If you feel unstable, keep the chair alongside a table that you can touch for balance.
- Do as many repetitions as possible.
- Step as far forwards as possible with your right foot.
- Shift your weight to your right foot.
- Try to get your knee overtop of your foot.
- Push off with your left foot so that you bring your feet to shoulder-width apart.
- If you have trouble with balance, you can do these walking lunges beside a counter or table or anywhere you can stabilize yourself.
- These lunges can be done several in a row, lunging across a room.
- Walking lunges can also be done one at a time if you are using a counter-top for stabilization. Do one lunge and then turn around to do the next lunge on the opposite foot.
For these exercises it is best to start with a manageable number of repetitions.
Don’t start off with a bang and injure yourself.
Keep track of your repetitions so you can be proud as you are able to do more and more.