Functional Training for Older Adults

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  • John Phillips

More and more studies are finding that Functional Training is best for older adults. What is Functional Training? It is the attempt to design an exercise program or exercises that will allow the participant to perform activities of daily life easier. This probably brings up a few questions: wouldn’t any exercise make activities of daily life easier, what are activities of daily live, and what is an older adult (has nothing to do with a numerical age or maturity level)?

Let’s start with the first question. There is some research out there that is indicating that you can be strong and still not be able to do simple tasks; such as, stepping up onto a curb, having a basic stride when you walk or getting up from a toilet. This same research is showing that if we trai, utilizing some of the basic motions that we perform in a daily activity, then it makes it easier to perform that activity. When we train for strength, we use more weight and keep the repetitions between 10-15. When training for daily activities we should keep the weight lighter and perform more repetitions. You will want to do them with more dynamics, especially on the contraction portion of the movement. A good example would be when you are performing stand ups from a chair, you want to try and explode out of the chair and slowly sit back down without a drop.

Second question is, what are the activities of daily life? Daily activities are any activities that we perform on a daily basis: brushing our teeth, using the bathroom, cooking, and most of all walking. If you work at it, these tasks should be quite easy, unless you have some disease or ailment that inhibits your abilities.

The last question is, what is an older adult? It is not a number, it is more about your ability to perform activities of daily living. Oakmont is a perfect example of this. When you walk into the Fitness Center there are many people of different ages, yet there is no way I would guess anyone’s age. Some of the most active adults are older then some of the ones who are unable to get up off the raised platforms. We all age differently and researchers are even having a hard time putting a finger on it. They know that some of it is genetics, some of it is activity and some is diet, but there maybe other facts that come into play. My best advice is to continue working out as hard as you can, maybe change a few exercises to help with daily activities, but more then anything don’t quit moving.

I hope this helps somewhat and if you have any questions please stop by the Fitness Center and see me, call at 707-494-9086, or email wkuout2@aol.com. I hope to see everyone at the Fitness Center.

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