Updated: Jan 18, 2021
It's important to consider the ability to perform day to day movements and tasks as we grow older. Functional exercises may be the answer.
Different people have different motives to do exercises. Many want to look and feel healthy, for some it's to achieve a challenge and for others it's to protect from ill health maybe in later years.
Throughout life muscles will degrade, however it’s good to know that they are also growing or regenerating at the same time. As we age, muscle mass is lost more quickly and that means that without exercise muscles may not regenerate at the same rate leading to loss of strength. This is "because their bodies cannot turn proteins into muscle fast enough to keep up with the natural rate of the tissue’s breakdown".
More extreme muscle loss is known as sarcopenia.
Also as we age there is a tendency to have less natural balance and coordination.
So we should think ahead to the time when it's not going to be as easy to move about and lift things. As a lifestyle and fitness coach helping people to "future proof" is my biggest motivator to be in this profession.
Whether it's being able to get up and down quickly, doing gardening or carrying the shopping bags, the more we maintain our muscle, have a healthy heart and stay flexible the more of a full life we will have in the future.
Exercises that are best adapted to day to day movements are referred to as functional.
All exercises have a functional element to a certain extent, as they tone muscles and increase endurance, however we can introduce exercises that work muscles and joints that are directly associated with certain daily movements.
The kind of functional exercise in this category includes those with a “get up and down” aspect. This could be getting up and down off the floor or from a sitting to standing position. Then there are exercises that will maintain or improve balance and coordination.
Flexibility is the final factor to take into account when looking to be able to move freely and that's not only for old age.
Another great thing about functional exercises is that they are also compound movements. This means that multiple muscle groups are activated at the same time. Giving us more benefit from that precious time we spend working out.
So if you want to keep your endurance and have the strength to fulfil everything you want to continue to do with your life then think about weaving these types of movement into your routines.
There are many functional exercises my personal favourites include inchworms, squats, downward to upward dog, step up and lunges. There really isn’t a limit so be creative, just make sure that correct technique and good breathing are maintained throughout.
Inchworms are a great exercise, they reinforce the core and strengthen many muscles needed for day to day life.