When someone says the word “fitness,” we tend to think of bodybuilders, or sprinters built like gazelles, or basketball players that could jump over a small car. We imagine star athletes at the peak of their physical potential, not functional strength in everyday life…
But of course, fitness encompasses way more.
Fitness is also being able to sit down in a chair and then stand up. It’s being able to walk
up a flight of stairs, and being able to carry your groceries in from the car. It’s being able to walk the dog and throw its toy for retrieval. There are many who take these common day-to-day tasks for granted, but there’s no denying that they too involve a level of fitness. As we get older, it’s important to maintain the strength of everyday life, not only for our health, but for convenience, happiness, independence, and quality of life…
So how do we maintain a functional level of fitness for everyday life, even if we aren’t avid gym-goers? The best strategy is to just do little things every day that will challenge you and keep you in top shape. Here are some suggestions for keeping you up and at it well into your golden years:
See a personal trainer or join a gym and work with fitness professionals. These trainers don’t just work with bodybuilders and athletes! Personal trainers provide you with a personalized plan to address your specific needs, which makes them by far the wisest option for those wanting to be strong for everyday life!
Try getting up from a chair with a neutral spine without using your arms to brace you. This mimics an actual gym-style workout exercise called the box squat, and will, over time, provide your legs with the pushing power to hop in and out of chairs for decades with no trouble.
This one’s a bit cliché, true, but always take the stairs if you can. Those looking for an added challenge can even take two steps at a time. In general, the more you walk and move, the healthier you’ll be, especially later in life.
Build a strong upper back by never wimping out on how many bags of groceries you can take in at once. Make sure you grab close to equal weight in both hands, and try to get them inside in as few trips as you can. This also mimics a common exercise, known as the farmer’s walk. In the gym, your trainer will probably add lunges to your farmer’s walk, but that will come in good time!
Never, never fall into “I’m too old for this” thought patterns. The things we tell ourselves, we subconsciously make into our reality. A professional baseball player would never tell themselves they can’t run the bases well enough, and neither should you tell yourself you can’t walk your dog anymore, or carry a big load of groceries in from the car.
Of course, with all that said, there’s also the reality that as we get older, we can become more prone to injury, especially if we have not exercised throughout our lives. While keeping good physical fitness can go a long way toward helping to build resilience, it’s also important whenever you perform strenuous activity in your day-to-day life to make certain that you do it safely and with good form. The most important factor is watching your back! Your spine has normal curves when viewed from the side. These curves help to better absorb the loads applied to the spine from the weight of the body. Here are some tips to keep your spine in good shape, which will go a long way toward keeping your whole body in good shape:
Always keep an eye on your posture. As we grow older, many tend to “hunch” the upper back, a condition known as kyphosis. Postural kyphosis is caused by poor posture and the weakening of the muscles and ligaments in the back (paraspinous muscles). As you stand and walk, periodically check yourself and make sure that your shoulders are pulled back, your chest is out, your chin is tucked with your head pointing straight forward in a neutral position (not up or down), and your hips are square beneath you (that is to say, you’re not sticking your butt out or rocking your pelvis forward). Your personal trainer is a great choice to assess your current posture and design a plan to help you correct any posture mistakes.
When it comes time to lift and carry something, what they always told you at work is true: bend at the knees, keep a flat neutral spine, and lift with your legs. There is no better way to herniate a disk and never walk without pain again than to lift a heavy object with a rounded back. If you feel your back starting to round while lifting, set the object back down, take in a deep breath, straighten your back and attempt the lift again.
In keeping with these last two points on proper back posture, let’s just round this up by emphasizing further, that at all times, the integrity of your back is paramount. Watch yourself during everyday tasks: if you torque your back to “whip” the hatch down on your SUV, or if you hunch over your knee when bending over to tie your shoe instead of bending at the hips, you’re creating compromising positions that will in time deprive you of the strength for everyday life!
There you have it, some advice on both how to build strength and endurance to get you through a functional day, and also how to keep your body in proper working order to keep that strength – functional strength in everyday life… Use these tips well, incorporate a personal fitness plan, and you’ll be spry and strong well into your seventies, eighties, nineties, and beyond!
Whatever your current level, fitness is personal, and your fitness plan should be too. In this time of personal promises and resolutions, The Fitness Clinic gym in Imperial Square Plaza encourages you to call for a complimentary personal fitness assessment.
If you are already exercising, maybe you could benefit from a more personal customized approach, and if you are committing to starting a new program in the New Year, give yourself the best chance for success. The Fitness Clinic has over thirty years of success stories and you can fit right in with our limited membership and be next. For the greatest chance of success, your best bet is to start your resolutions in December!
Call Fred or Nick at The Fitness Clinic gym, and let’s get you started right now – For more information on the best personal trainer programs in Broward or directed independent training programs, please call us at The Fitness Clinic gym: 954-491-4969, or email in confidence to: firstname.lastname@example.org.