BY JOANN BARRY COLON
Did you know that functional training may be beneficial for older adults to help improve balance, agility and muscle strength and decrease the risk of falls?
What is functional training? Performing exercises that mimic activities that we perform in our daily lives, such as squats, sitting and standing
As a certified personal trainer specializing in functional training, I design programs for clients with functional training in mind.
Functional training activities involve the following:
Below are four functional training exercises to help improve balance, agility and strength, and to decrease the risk of falls.
Dumbbell Step-Up – Mimic climbing stairs, whether you’re taking the stairs to the first floor or the tenth floor. This exercise helps to strengthen the quadriceps and glutes.
How to perform: Use a six to twelve inch height bench. Stand six inches from the bench with a dumbbell in each hand. Place the entire left foot onto the bench, be sure to keep your knee at a 90-degree angle. Next, push through the heel of the left foot, to step the right leg to the bench. Lower the right foot back to the floor with control. Keep the chest up and look straight ahead. Step up for 10 to 12 reps on each side. Beginners start with one to two sets and progress to three sets
Dumbbell Lunges – Mimicing many daily activities, this exercise helps to strengthen the quadriceps, hamstrings, shoulders and back muscles and improves posture.
How to perform: Start by holding a dumbbell in each hand at your side. Step the right foot forward (be sure that both knees are at a 90 degree angle when bent), then push through the right foot to return to the start position. Keep your chest up and torso tall.
As you lower down toward the floor, drive through your right heel to return to standing. Repeat for 10 to 15 reps on each leg.
Beginners start with one to two sets and progress to three sets.
Dumbbell Russian Twist – Mimics movements such as reaching to get something from the back seat of a car. This exercise helps to improve core strength and all the muscles that support the spine.
How to perform: Sit on the floor with knees bent, keep your feet and knees a few inches apart then lean your torso back until it’s at a 45 degree angle to your hips. Hold a dumbbell extended out in front of you at chest height and with your torso steady and abs engaged, rotate the dumbbell to the right, return to center and rotate to the left (avoid moving the dumbbell with your arms and shoulders). Repeat 15 to 20 reps. Beginners start with one to two sets and progress to three sets.
Standing Dumbbell Press – Mimics movements that involve reaching a high shelf and cleaning windows. This exercise helps to strengthen the upper back, shoulders, arms and core. Lifting while standing forces the body to stabilize, therefore engages the abdominal muscles.
How to perform: Stand with the feet shoulder – width apart, knees slightly bent, chest up, shoulders pulled back and long spine and look straight ahead, raise the dumbbells up to your shoulders, palms facing forward. Press the dumbbells upward until the arms are fully extended overhead (keeping your elbows slightly bent). Pause at the top and then slowly return down to start position. Repeat 8 to12 reps. Beginners start with one to two sets and progress to three sets.
Consult with your physician before starting this program. For best results work one on one with a certified personal trainer that specializes in functional training or brains and balance training or physical therapist. Redeem this article to receive one complimentary personal training session. Email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org