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Doubling down on fitness is key to ensuring seniors maximize their quality of life as they age. Not only is it important to be generally fit, it is important that seniors incorporate functional fitness exercises into their regular routines.

Functional fitness exercises are often part of a physio rehab program. However, it is just as important in a regular fitness routine as it is to a functional physio program.

Functional fitness exercises mimic the demands of everyday living. By improving their ability to do those exercises, everyday living becomes safer and easier for seniors. Common functional movements that can be easily replicated in an exercise program include lifting, carrying, pushing, pulling and getting up and down from the floor.

Those functional movements require adequate muscle strength, joint mobility, balance and position awareness to execute them safely without needing to visit a physio afterwards!
For seniors, there are often medical conditions or past injuries that cause muscle weakness, joint stiffness and/or a loss of stability that can alter how they move putting them at more risk than their younger counterparts. As a result, seniors regularly experience injury and require physio as they attempt to engage in everyday tasks that now exceed their capacity.

Access to safe and appropriate exercise can be difficult for seniors. Often exercise programming is so challenging that it causes injury or so easy it doesn’t create any meaningful change in physical capacity. Working with a physio on a functional fitness program can provide the perfect middle ground for seniors to exercise safely but intensely enough to improve their quality of life.

The first step is for seniors to have an individualized health assessment with a physio to discuss past medical history, current areas of concern and identify activities that are becoming increasingly challenging as they age. The physio can then complete a physical screening to identify areas of concern with regard to capacity and also those areas that need to be protected through specific exercise avoidance or modification.

Following the physio assessment, an individualized functional fitness program can be developed or the physio may recommend participating in group exercise classes that focus on the inclusion of functional movement exercises. Regardless of the path chosen, seniors should have clarity from the physio regarding which exercises will provide the most benefit and which exercises should be avoided due to safety concerns.

Functional strengthening exercises for the lower body include squats, lunges and step ups. Functional exercises that strengthen the upper body include push up variations, rowing exercises and bicep curls. The mobility work may be achieved based on the functional exercises chosen or include various movements that take joints through large ranges of motion (ie: reaching overhead, forward and backward with the arms). Balance exercises improve proprioception. There are static balance (standing still) and dynamic balance (stability while moving) exercises. Both types of balance work contribute to a senior’s agility and steadiness in movement.

Due to the variety of functional exercises and the previously mentioned risk of having altered movement patterns due to past injury or medical conditions, seniors should consider starting a functional fitness program under the supervision of a physio.

Working with a physio one on one can provide a lot of value for seniors. However, it can be time-consuming and costly if trying to do a functional fitness routine 2-3 times/week to get optimal benefit. The Club Z Fitness Program blends group functional fitness programming with the supervision of a physio. All classes are developed and taught by physios. Whether participants are attending in-studio or virtually, they are able to be seen and heard by the physio and receive real-time feedback regarding exercise technique and modifications.

Seniors deserve to continue enjoying the activities they love for as long as possible as they age. One way that they can proactively influence that ability is by working with a physio to incorporate the principles of functional fitness into their exercise routines.

Book an assessment with Zoomers

Use our online booking tool to find a time that works for you!