The Fitness Center: Why Strength and Functional Exercising?

Lois Moncel, Director of Fitness & Wellness

As we age, most of us are aware that we need to add or maintain a strengthening program. However, have you ever wondered why and what exercises are best? It seems right to me to combine strengthening exercises with movements that you use on a daily basis (or functional exercises). Think about it … what is your goal when you are in your 70s, 80s, or even 90s and up? The common answer is to be able to walk and move easily and independently. Therefore, this leads us to the question, what are the best exercises to do? Below are five comprehensive exercises that not only strengthen but also mimic everyday movements.

1. Squats: This type of movement is a staple that is used daily—rising from and lowering into a chair or bending down to pick up something you’ve dropped. When you are learning to perform a squat, be sure to hold on to a chair or countertop for safety.

2. Lunges: This single-leg movement is performed every time you walk, climb stairs, or step down off a curb. Modifications are always available; if it seems too hard, do not be afraid to ask how a lunge can be changed.

3. Pushups: What muscles do you use when picking up your grandchild, or when you put groceries up on a high shelf, or the best—propping yourself up when your spouse brings you breakfast in bed? Pushups can be done on a countertop, a bench, or on the floor. Pushups are one of the best upper body exercises that you could include in your workout.

4. Rows: How can you keep your back strong enough to pull your car door open or perform any household chores. These are pulling movements that also help you have a sense of balance. Rows can be performed at home using resistance bands or at the gym using equipment.

5. Torso rotational moves: Think about how you rotate your torso when you put on a seatbelt, play golf, pickleball, tennis, or turn to say hello to a friend. Check out a wood chop motion with a lighter weight. Wood chops mimic the motion that a lumberjack would use when chopping wood.

The exercises above in no way should be a complete workout and as always you should check with your physician before starting an exercise program or adding new exercises to your routine. It is up to you to take charge of your health and workout routine; every exercise can be modified, so do not ever assume you have waited too long to start or change your current workout program. For questions, contact Lois Moncel, Director of Fitness & Wellness at [email protected].