Exercises for Functional Movement
Every day you spend keeping yourself in good shape means longer life with less pain and disability. Activities such as walking are, of course, excellent, but at the least, every senior needs to be able to accomplish the following movements.
Beginning this entire set of exercises every day in your 50s is a great idea to maintain fitness for the long haul. When you can easily accomplish these motions, increase the repetition of sets.
This motion is essential to accomplishing tasks like using the restroom, sitting and rising from a chair, and bending to pick up an item. Also called Hip-Hinging, this daily exercise will strengthen your hips.
Stand with your feet as wide as your hips. Keep your chin parallel to the floor, not bent downward. Keep your core muscles in your abdomen and back tight, then lift your chest. Shift your weight from your hips to your feet and lower your body.
Your thighs should end up parallel, or nearly so, to the floor. Don’t let your knees go too far forward of your toes. Pushing through your heels, return to a standing position. Those motions count for one repetition. Try to do three sets of 10.
When you climb stairs or walk, you are doing some variation of the lunge. This exercise will keep you more mobile longer. <!—VIDEO HERE–>
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Place your hands on your hips. Move forward on one foot. To maintain your balance, don’t let your knee go farther out than your toes. Your knees should be at a 90-degree angle. If you have bad knees, you can lean forward slightly from the waist.
Pause for a few seconds, then return to your standing position by pressing through your heels. That is one rep. To begin with, try three sets of 10.
We use a pushing motion often in our daily lives. We open the door to our cars, rake leaves, or manage a grocery cart. When used with the pulling motion exercises, we balance our bodies’ strength.
Get a resistance band and tie it at your elbows’ height around either a railing or another object that will not move. Grab the band, one tie in each hand with your palms facing.
With your chest up and squeezing your shoulder blades as you move, pull the band straight back until your hands reach the sides of your ribcage. You can move farther from the banister to make the exercise more challenging. Do three sets of 10 reps.
The Wood Chop
Whether you are shoveling snow or snapping a seatbelt closed, playing tennis, or golf, this lumberjack move will help you maintain smooth rotational movements. If you have back trouble, you should see your doctor before you do this exercise.
Stand with your feet as wide as your hips and squat down. Twist to the left, inhaling as you do. Keep rotating to the left until your hands are outside of the left leg. Exhale, lifting your arms diagonally across your body. End by twisting to the right with your arms held above your head. Keep your movements slow and controlled. Do three sets of 10 reps.
This seemingly simple movement takes significant core strength and stability. The goal is to achieve a smooth motion rolling on a bed or the floor from your front side to the back without using your arms or legs to help. If you have back problems, you may wish to check with your doctor first.
First, lie down with your arms and legs held out wide in an X position. Try to roll onto your stomach without using your legs or your arms to push. Lift one of your legs up and across your body. Continue with this motion until your body turns over. For arms, reach one up and across your body until you flip over. Repeat to return to your starting position. That is one rep. Do three sets of five.
If you can’t make this move as described, you may have weak core strength. Practice the movements as far as possible, return to the starting position, and try once more.
Hopping sounds like a childish movement, but it’s one that can save your life. If you step off a curb, and a car zooms down the street, you need to move back and out of the way quickly enough.
This movement requires one foot to move up and land with the opposite foot. Don’t worry about standing straight. Concentrate instead on your form. Stand on your left leg and hold the pose for 3 to 5 seconds. Make sure you’re steady. Now, hop onto your right leg. Balance well on your right leg for 3 to 5 seconds, then repeat the movement on the other side. Do three sets of 10.
If you have trouble with these movements because your balance is limited, step from one leg to the other without hopping. As you get stronger, gradually move more quickly until you can hop.
Your physical therapist may evaluate your functionality by having your repeat these movements. They offer important clues as to where you need special attention to regain and maintain functionality.