Functional Fitness

Blindsided: Functional Fitness and Why You Need It

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could know and prepare for what’s coming your way each day? Functional fitness can help you do just that.  “Functional Fitness”, or as WebMD describes it: working out for real life situations.  It teaches mindful body positioning, moving your upper and lower body while strengthening your core, increasing mobility, flexibility, strength, balance, and best of all, preventing injury or speeding recovery!

Think of the orange juice commercial a few years back – mom at the breakfast table surrounded by family warning her of what might happen that day. “Mom, if you back out of the driveway over my bicycle, you’ll have a flat and run late” informs her son. Her daughter chimes in, “I hope your computer doesn’t crash today.” You get the idea. Drink your juice – you’re prepared.

A more timely script for you could warn:

“When hurrying down the stairs, you’ll miss the last step and . . .”
“As you’re bent lifting that large box of books, you’ll . . . ”
“In your new strappy heels, you won’t see water on the polished floor and . . .”

You’re blindsided. Stuff happens. The end result, however, depends on you! Our body’s preparedness determines whether we get a bit sore or a debilitating injury. Our muscles can actually remember how to lessen or prevent injury! This is critical for us Prime women since our balance, muscle mass and strength declines with age. As goes the slogan, “You can’t predict, you can prepare.” I thought after just turning 60 that I was in great health and had been enjoying my career in fitness. Then I was blindsided by a sudden appendix rupture. I was able to bounce back relatively quickly due to the role that fitness had played in my life.

Here are 2 ways you can use functional fitness to prepare your body for daily wear, tear, and heaven forbid, blindsides:

1. The Perfect Stand

The Perfect Stand

With your shoulders back yet relaxed, raise and expand your rib cage and inhale. Pull your belly button to your backbone, wrapping it in imaginary shrink wrap. Exhale, and keep the shrink wrap in place. You’ve engaged your core, the basic of all fitness training. Now that your core is engaged, stand on one leg then the other with hands on hips. Repeat holding longer each time, improving balance. Graduate to gently flexing and rotating each foot, writing your imaginary initials in the air, increasing flexibility and strengthening your ankles. Strengthening your core is especially useful for us Prime women because it builds strong muscles and strong bones to guard against sarcopenia – the loss of muscle mass and strength – and osteoporosis, according to the American College of Sports Medicine.

2. Imaginary Chair Squat (My favorite!)

Imaginary Chair Squat

With core engaged, back straight and inclined and hands placed on upper thighs, feel the weight of your body in your heels as your bottom moves back then down to sit in an imaginary chair. Almost seated, hold. Stand up, core engaged, and repeat. Use this stable move in place of bending over.

Practice these “mindful moves” to prepare for your most common everyday activities. Remember, mindful movement begins the moment you open your eyes in the morning –  try it out while brushing your teeth or picking up the newspaper.

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week – that’s only 22 minutes per day. Performing the above movements while you are sitting or standing anyway can help you increase fitness.

So get going with these mindful moves and be prepared before any blindsides!

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