We hear a lot about topics such as health, exercise, fitness, and we talk about them.
say things like: “I worry about my health.” “I want to have better
physical fitness.” “I think I’ll start an exercise program.”
However, many of us don’t realize that we are really just making generalized statements about broad subjects.
example, when you talk about “exercise”, you could be talking about
running, weight lifting, gardening, swimming, or bicycling. You could be
talking about doing a few pushups a day, or yoga every day.
one of these forms of exercise is different in some ways from the
others, and each will, if done properly and regularly, produce different
Almost all forms of exercise can contribute to “health”
and to “fitness”, but each in their own way and to the degree that many
factors allow them to. How much you exercise at a time, how often you
exercise over time, and even how your own body reacts to the exercise
you are doing all contribute to the ultimate results.
If you want a
strong cardiovascular system, you choose aerobic type activities which
don’t always produce a lot of strength. If you want more strength, you
may choose resistance exercises which may only have a small effect on
your cardiovascular health. If you want to lose weight, live longer, or
just be healthy, you may have to find a balanced workout that doesn’t
concentrate on strength or cardiovascular results, but which does help
you manage your weight, live longer, and stay in better health.
as we age, most of the conventional exercise programs tend to overlook a
particular form of fitness which becomes somewhat harder to achieve
with each passing year… and with ordinary exercise programs.
is functional fitness. It is not just a question of how many pushups we
can do or how far we can walk in an hour. It is about how good we are
at living life.
You see, as we age, many things happen to our bodies.
lose some of our strength. We lose some of our flexibility. We lose
some of our cardiovascular efficiency, and we lose some of our ability
to put all those things together to allow us to do the daily activities
For example, you may do resistance training for strength,
and aerobic exercise for cardiovascular health and efficiency, but, you
may still have trouble carrying in a trunkful of groceries, fixing a
meal for the family, doing yard work, or enjoying some quality time with
And, my friend, you don’t have to be “old” for
this to happen… or, at least, begin to happen. Our naturally sedentary
society together with narrow-focused exercise programs, when we bother
to do them, help us lose our functional abilities faster than you might
Even worse, loss of functional fitness is a slippery
slope. Once it begins, it tends to continue, picking up speed with each
passing year. Our unwillingness, or inability, to turn the tide around,
causes us to lose functional fitness at increasing rates over time.
only does it become harder to do the things we would like to do, and
used to do easily, but our health begins to suffer, perhaps to the point
of adding to our risk for various age, and activity, related health
Of course, you can begin doing strength exercises, and,
you can begin taking walks and maybe even get to the point where you are
running. If you are lucky, or in time, that may be all it takes to
achieve functional fitness. However, if you can do your workouts and
your walks or whatever and still have a hard time getting the groceries
into the house, you still have problems with functional fitness.
course, exercise is not the only factor. What you eat, how much you
sleep, and even the company you keep can all have an effect on health
This makes putting together a comprehensive program
to restore functional fitness, or prevent its loss, a bit complicated,
and more than can be covered in an article of only a few hundred words.
Each person is different, and getting the right mix of activity, rest,
nutrition, and life in general, will require study, guidance, or both.
loss of functional fitness is a very real possibility for even the most
health and fitness conscious individual, so it makes sense to learn as
much as possible about the problem, and its solution, as possible.