Workout to built functional strength
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This Workout Helps You Stay Independent as You Age—Here’s How

Mobility is key to independence as you age. Do this workout to stay independent and active as you age. 

Aging comes with many changes. Some are welcoming like more wisdom and more time. All while, others are less favorable like limited mobility and declining strength. 

The older you get, the more critical it is to stay functional, improve strength, and keep up with mobility and vitality. 

This is especially true if you are looking to stay independent and perform everyday tasks with a breeze as you age. 

One way to combat the natural decline of mobility and functions that come with aging is functional strength training. 

Functional strength training is incredibly beneficial the older you get. It’ll help you manage daily tasks without difficulties and stay independent and live your life to the fullest.

Not to mention, it can help reduce your risk of falls and injuries. 

Whether you are looking to spend your retirement chasing after your grandchildren, traveling the world, or gardening, you need functional training. 

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Benefits of Functional Training

benefits of functional training

Functional training has a direct implication for everyday activities, improving coordination and balance. Their movement patterns mimic daily movement patterns like walking, lunging, and sitting down. 

Moreover, many functional exercises tackle multiple muscles, making them a perfect strengthening workout. 

This 4-move functional strength workout encapsulates all the essential movements you need as you get older. It’s also a great instrument for developing your mobility, coordination, and muscle mass, which helps you counter aging. 

Best of all, it can be an effective preventive tool for falls and injuries. 

Many functional movements are calisthenics. They can be performed without weights and advanced with free weights as you gain strength. 

Don’t need any equipment or a gym to perform this workout. All you need is some open space and body weight. 

There is squatting, lunging, pressing, and rotating. All of these movements are vital to the ability to complete daily tasks on your own. 

Bodyweight Squat 

Bodyweight squat

Squats train for everyday activities like sitting down and getting out of bed. Not only it’s a functional move, but also trains for balance, stability, and strength. 

If you are just starting out, start with a bodyweight squat. As you gain strength and learn the correct form, add a pair of dumbbells to the move. 

How to Perform It:

  • Stand straight with your back flat and feet slightly wider than your shoulder width apart. Keep your toes turning out and knees slightly bent. 
  • Hold your chest up and place your hands on your hips or raise your arms straight out in front of you, palms facing down.
  • Breathe in and hinge your hips back by bending at your knees and hips, allowing your hips to ease backward.
  • Keep your spine neutral and ensure that the bend in your knees follows the line of your feet.
  • Squat down until your thighs are parallel to the floor ( or further if you have good hip mobility). 
  • If you are experiencing knee joint, ankle pain, or any sort of issues, control the depth of the squat. Do not lower past 90 degrees into a full squat.
  • Pause, then return to the starting position. Do 10 reps. 

Forward Lunges 

forward lunges

Lunging motion can be seen in essential movements like walking and climbing upstairs. It’s one lower body exercise that strengthens not only your hamstrings, adductors, hip flexors, and glutes, but also your core and abs. 

How to Perform It:

  • Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart. Tighten your core, and step forward with one foot, adjusting your weight, so your heel hits first. Keep the other foot planted flat on the floor.
  • Bend your front leg until your thigh is parallel to the floor. If you have the flexibility, tap the back knee lightly on the ground. As you lunge, keep your head up. Then, press into the heel of your front foot and drive back up to your standing position.
  • Complete 8 to 12 reps stepping forward with the right leg, then switch legs and repeat on the left side. Do 3 to 4 sets

Dumbbell Alternating Press with Twist

Dumbbell Alternating Press with Twist

The dumbbell alternating shoulder press and twist is an upper body exercise that works the shoulders and triceps. It also incorporates a twisting motion that adds rotational movements to this popular exercise. 

Through the press and twist, you engage not only the broader areas of your shoulders but also the obliques and core, making it a full-body workout. 

How to Perform It:

  • Stand straight with your back flat, holding a pair of dumbbells (or water bottles) just outside your shoulders. Keep your elbows bent and palms facing each other.
  • Rotate your torso to the left as you press the dumbbell in your right hand above your shoulder.
  • Return to the starting position and switch sides to perform on the other side. That’s one rep. Complete 8-10 reps per side. 

Plank

Plank workout

Plank is an isometric exercise. In that, you hold the planking position for a length of time. The key to this abs exercise is spine and core stability. The plank exercise teaches you to brace properly and build foundational strength. It also creates awareness of the core strength and the spine’s involvement in that. 

Unlike other popular abs exercises like the crunch that isolates the frontal abdominal muscle, the plank covers more. It’s inclusive in terms of the muscles it recruits to achieve stability. The plank uses the rectus abdominis, obliques, back extensors, quads, and lats. It also tightens your glute muscles to maintain the proper spine stability. 

It’s a great functional exercise anyone including older adults can use and gain from. 

How to Perform It:

  • Get down on all fours with your elbows on the floor. Position your elbows right below your shoulders, and knees directly below the hips. Facedown and keep your head relaxed throughout the exercise. 
  • Tuck in your abs and draw your navel toward your spine. Lift your knees off the floor to come up. Adjust your body so it forms a straight line from head to heels. 
  • Don’t curve your back and drop the hips. This is the neutral spine position. 
  • Hold this plank position for 30-60 seconds. 

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