Healthy aging is more than the absence of disease, according to the World Health Organisation: “For most older people, the maintenance of functional ability has the highest importance,” they say.
The team at Her Fitness agree with that statement. Having a chronic health issue like diabetes or high blood pressure is manageable with medication, whereas being unable to stand up from sitting or even managing the activities of daily living changes everything.
So what is functional training for ageing? This means your fitness programme mirrors common daily life activities like getting out of a chair, making a bed, lifting laundry baskets, getting in and out of the car, going shopping, and gardening etc. In older adults as fitness declines, many find it difficult to do these daily tasks or even engage in enjoyable activities.
Functional training is important for all adults because our physical ability declines over a period of years. When we have lost enough fitness to notice these changes, it’s harder to build back up. Our lack of balance and strength along with our confidence makes it that much harder to address these changes. The good news is it is possible to improve our strength and fitness at any age.
At Her Fitness we have noticed an increase in the number of ageing women who want to “lift weights”. Fortunately the misguided stigma that was attached to women and weights is a thing of the past. Women now know this type of training will keep them fit and strong in their retirement years. Many of our older members tell us there is nothing more satisfying than to feel their bodies getting stronger so they can do more outside of the gym.
Before we prescribe any workout programme – whether you are a seasoned gymgoer or a first timer – we discuss with you your present and past medical status. Along with this and other information a specific programme is written which allows for personal goals, abilities and challenges. We are well aware that even the word “gym” may conjure up images and perceptions that these are not places for the faint hearted. Nothing could be further from the truth for the ladies at Her Fitness. We are extremely proud of all our members and the advances they are making towards improving their lifestyles.
So what would a functional fitness programme include? We may include pushing and pulling exercises, rising and lowering, rotation, lifting, supported balance, and a cardiovascular component. Naturally our programmes take a first rung of the ladder approach and as confidence and strength grows so do the challenges of the programme.
Regular exercise is one of the best things you can do for your health. It has many benefits, including improving your overall health and fitness, and reducing your risk for many chronic diseases. There are many different types of exercise; it is important that you pick the right types for you. Most people benefit from a combination of them:
Endurance, or aerobic, activities increase your breathing and heart rate. They keep your heart, lungs, and circulatory system healthy and improve your overall fitness. Examples include brisk walking, jogging, swimming, and biking.
Strength, or resistance training, exercises make your muscles stronger. Some examples are lifting weights and using a resistance band.
Balance exercises can make it easier to walk on uneven surfaces and help prevent falls. To improve your balance, try tai chi or exercises like standing on one leg.
Flexibility exercises stretch your muscles and can help your body stay limber. Yoga and doing various stretches can make you more flexible.