It’s no secret that the word “functional” is one of the “big words” in fitness industry today. Despite the varying opinions on what some are defining as “functional movements”, it usually always gets narrowed down to activities of daily living.
There are 6 basic fundamental activities of daily living:
- Bathing: getting into and out of a tub or shower
- Dressing: putting on any necessary items of clothing, as well as undressing
- Transferring: getting into and out of a bed, chair, etc.
- Toileting: getting to and from the toilet
- Continence: maintaining control of bowel and bladder function
- Eating: the ability to feed yourself
Performing most ADLs (activities of daily living) require our major joint systems to have a certain amount of flexibility, strength, coordination, and balance to perform each task. With this being said, below are 3 exercises that would all help us age gracefully as we aim for the best quality of life possible.
There are fitness enthusiasts that “live to exercise.” Not everyone is like that. You don’t have to necessarily live to exercise, but you probably need to exercise to live.
We are constantly “picking things up and putting them down”. How many times have we heard about that person’s “back going out” when they went to pick up something off the floor or getting in and out of a chair?
It starts with a good, deadlift/hip hinge. Your hips travel back with a softening of the knees. Then, your knees bend more as you continue lowering yourself down onto the chair. Yes, I also just described the squat (which is really just a different version of a deadlift and vice versa). A good squat starts with a good hinge. Otherwise, it’s the guy who needs to hold onto something in front of them, bend his spine forward, and flop down quickly onto a seat.
We are constantly picking things up and off the floor, whether that be our children, pets, a box full of certain supplies, a laundry basket, and the list goes on.
What’s also interesting to note is that the deadlift makes most lists, whether it be for topics ranging from longevity, to max strength, toning, or stability. Success often leaves clues. If you keep hearing how beneficial the deadlift is on a variety of levels, then there’s good reason to include it in your programs.
And sometimes, not only do you need to pick something up, but then you need to carry it around as well. Groceries bags, that laundry basket you just picked up, or a suitcase and a bag when you are rushing to your flight at the airport, these are more of the common examples. While travelling around the world I have taken tons of flights over the years, and the amount of people who cannot even put their luggage in an overhead compartment is phenomenal.
There are many different types of carrying variations. Farmer, unilateral, waiter, rack, and mixed are some of the most popular. Just as life will always ask us to do something different, it is important to use a variety of these drills.
Get Up (Get Down)
How many grandparents can easily get down to the ground to play with their grandkids? How easily can any of us get up from the floor without grabbing on to all available apparatuses, while at the same time throwing variety of facial expressions and holding our backs, knees, and shoulders in agony?
In a study published in the European Journal of Preventative Cardiology (2014), Brazilian physician Claudio Gil Araujo had more than 2,000 patients ages 51 to 80, all participate in an exercise program at Clinimex Exercise Medicine Clinic in Rio de Janeiro. With this, he created the SRT, the sitting-rising test.
Araujo noticed that many of his patients, particularly older people, had trouble with ordinary motions, such as bending down. As people age, reduced muscle power and loss of balance can greatly increase the risk of dangerous falls.
There are many ways to exercise with ground to standing drills. The Turkish get up is one of the most notorious exercises for such a goal. Start with 1/4 get up and progress gradually!
In the end, there is one word that it all comes back to: movement.
We learned way back in middle school science class that things in motion stay in motion, and things at rest stay at rest.