You may be alright doing some specific repetitive moves at the gym, but still finding it hard to use stairs, get up from a seat, or reach overhead. You need some “Functional Fitness!”
You WANT your muscles working together in a way so that in your daily life activities you are able to control and balance the body, understand how to stabilize muscles, and prevent injury. The goals are strength, flexibility, a well maintained range of motion, joint alignment, balance, coordination, and above all a greater awareness of your own body.
Try these simple functional fitness exercises and see how you do:
1. See how long you can stand on one leg- your lifted leg can go behind the standing ankle
2. Can you reach down for an object and come right back up like a golfer picking up a ball?
3. How many squats with good form can you perform? Try sitting in a chair and quickly standing back up without using your hands
4. How many wall push-ups can you do?
5. Are you able to lean both forward and backward while standing without pain?
6. Can you negotiate a small obstacle course? Try to briskly move around a table weaving in and out and around chairs.
7. How many times can you lift an object weighing at least 2 lbs over your head?
Even if you exercise regularly you may be surprised by the level of challenge you find if you are unfamiliar with these types of moves. It doesn’t mean you have to dump what you normally do, but these types of movements are worth integrating into your weekly routine. The goal is to maintain form above all- so if the form goes before muscle fatigue comes, you’re done with the move.
Eventually you can move from the basics above to exercises that work the upper and lower body together, as we do in daily activities like pushing a shopping cart, loading groceries in the car then bringing them into the house and putting them away. Think of gardening, doing laundry, house cleaning, etc. All of these activities use both upper and lower body muscles.
Our bodies can go forward, backward, up, down, and side to side, so when we exercise we want to think of moving ourselves in many planes- not just one. An example of this is doing a front lunge, then a side lunge, then an angled lunge. Add a free weight row or curl while IN the lunge and now we’re talking more complex functional fitness training!
Don’t neglect walking. The basic benefits to the body are obvious and necessary, but we can easily forget how mood altering and eye opening and inspiring a good walk can be. Resolve to find some new and beautiful routes this year bearing in mind Soren Kierkegaard’s words, “Above all do not lose your desire to walk. Every day I walk myself into a state of wellbeing and walk away from illness. I have walked myself into my best thoughts and I know of no thoughts so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it. Thus if one just keeps on walking everything will b alright!”
As always, the Oaks is here, morning walks, fun and functional classes, great food, and good company. We’re ready to be a part of your healthy 2017!