Functional Fitness-Now That’s My Style

I was listening to the radio this morning while reading my paper. Then, the regular weekly segment about physical fitness, titled “Functional Fitness,” came on.

As I was sipping my coffee and reading the paper, a new term caught my attention-functional fitness. It was a term I had never heard before, and it immediately sparked my curiosity.

It resonated with me, contrary to other physical, gym, testosterone, and near-death workout terms. I kept sipping my coffee but turned my attention to the radio broadcast.

My understanding of functional fitness is that it is about achieving a standard of fitness that allows me to live an ordinary lifestyle. As I age, I have come to realize that some basic movements are no longer basic. They need to be planned for or even trained for.

Let me give some examples. Many blogs ago I wrote about grunting getting onto or up from chairs. My wife confirmed I was doing this. Insert a sad and crestfallen face here.

Picking up things and manipulating them can be difficult. My hands don’t usually hurt, but lifting heavier objects can be challenging.

Doing up a few shirts with particularly small buttonholes is making me more selective about buying clothing.

I used to be winded after a faster-than-average walk around the neighbourhood. This isn’t a good sign when looking at a cruise with lots of walking and being on my feet all day.

A few years ago, just after retirement, I decided that I needed to improve my fitness and health, especially in everyday activities. Without knowing it, I was working toward my functional fitness goals. This also helped me explain my new interest in different activities to others.

My wife is very accepting of my choice of parking stall, which is often as far from the front door of the store as reasonably possible.

I go to the local recreation centre three times a week for a cardio workout. My goal is not to get “better and better” until I suffer an injury but to keep my heart rate in the second zone for one hour each session. At first, just walking the track accomplished this, but now I have graduated to using the stair-stepper and treadmill.

I do squats at home. Completing 30 of these in 30 seconds is the standard commonly believed to be helpful. I just checked, and my wife reports there is no grunting anymore. Also, I have had a few situations when I lost my balance. I was able to use my limbs to regain my balance. The three weekly strengthening exercises, including my core, are part of my balancing act.

I have consciously targeted specific fitness attributes to improve my daily life. I don’t have any scientific proof that my time spent in functional fitness has improved my life, but I’m confident it has.

Please give this a bit of a think. Do you consciously set aside time to keep fit? Do you build in functional fitness that might seem invisible to others – walking instead of driving, stairs instead of the escalator?

I’m curious about your thoughts. Please share your bit of a think in the comment section below. It will come to me for approval before posting.

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6 thoughts on “Functional Fitness-Now That’s My Style

  1. Patti+Dolman says:

    I’ve never been good at routine fitness, setting time aside to exercise either at home or a gym. In fact I’m not good a routines period. But I do get my exercise and it’s at my place of employment an elementary school. Aside from the walking the halls to get to different classrooms I get to walk a dirt road that dissects the soccer field and the tarmac. I think in days gone by it was farmland because there are four oak trees planted about 30’ apart that line the roadway. My guess is that they are over 100 years old. Beyond this roadway is a small forest or wood lot. I walk this path back and forth everyday during my outdoor supervision duty for 40 minutes and I never tire of it. I am very fortunate that walking outdoors is part of my job.

  2. Gail says:

    I gave up my car about fifteen years ago. The health benefits for making that choice have had real life relevance. I take public transportation and I’ve never felt better. It’s helped to boost my mood and increase my mental acuity. I even go a step further by walking to the farthest bus stop (a mere 10 min. walk away). I feel more energetic and sleep better. Every morning I walk down a quiet road, breathing in relatively fresh air and getting in my steps.

    I think it was last year – I noticed that I was building up an endurance for walking longer distances. I didn’t notice it right away – I’m talking after months. For example, last summer I went on a 17 km. hike in Algonquin park. The terrain involved a moderate incline with some steeper sections. That’s when I noticed that aha moment! I wasn’t out of breath. (Okay, just a little on that last hill!) All that walking paid off and I was proud of myself for keeping up with the younger hikers.

    As we age, let’s face it, we’re all vulnerable to losing something. I’m losing bone mass, so I’ve been told by my Endocrinologist. I’m at moderate risk of bone fracture. To help compensate for this, I’ve been doing more weight-bearing exercises. Carrying heavy grocery bags is more my style. I take the stairs more often than I take the elevator. Any opportunity I see, I try to build up my muscles, strength and flexibility. Right now, walking is my main form of exercise. During my last appointment with the Endocrinologist, she said “Whatever you’re doing with your diet, supplements and exercise, keep doing it.”

    I also do A LOT of walking in my job. By the end of the day I can’t think of anything I’d rather do than to put my feet up. I’m not one for doing squats, push-ups, lunges, step-ups or jump-rope. Although I’ve been doing a little of jump-rope with our students lately.

    About six years ago I came across a personable and knowledgeable doctor who practiced functional medicine. Adonis taught me to always look for root causes of diseases rather than treat the symptoms (something I’ve intuitively known for decades). He taught me relaxation techniques (tapping) and a few different forms of meditation.

    I’ve never heard of functional fitness but it makes perfect sense. It’s all about optimizing our every day movements so that we can function. Period. I think it’s all about keeping our “parts” working to the best of our ability. Not just at “our age,” for “all ages.” Functional fitness is the foundation for functional medicine and I’d say they go hand in hand. I also see a Naturopathic doctor for similar reasons – to learn about different ways of building a strong immune system and keeping everything in my body functioning the way it should, by natural means.

    This was another good topic Glenn!

    • glenn says:

      What a great personal summary of how you are ahead of my discovery of functional fitness. You are literally walking the talk. Thanks.

  3. Diane says:

    The following was edited by Glenn Walmsley from an email received from Diane.

    I could identify with your recent blog. It rang a bell with me, re the groaning. Years ago, after driving home after a long hike, as my partner prepared to leave the car, we reminded each other, ‘No groaning.’ Habit corrected.

    When he was building houses, his sons and nephews were employed in the summer and during the holidays. Whenever they grumbled about something, they found that their paycheque was reduced. The ‘why’ was explained. Habit corrected.

    Functional fitness?
    Ever since the pandemic, more people in our area have been walking; they seem to have rediscovered the benefits of being active.

    I still find time to do my half-hour ‘stretch routine’ most days. It is like an insurance plan that pays off in the long term.
    Keep it up with your fitness!

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