I’m often asked by my members which type of exercise is most important for functional longevity? Is it walking or strength training?
Think about it….
The number one recommended thing that doctors ask their patience to do more of is walking. But what does this accomplish for us in terms of functional longevity?
Walking is often touted by health experts as the BEST exercise for older adults but I hate to mention that it is kind of a myth. Now don’t get me wrong, if you are a walker and you enjoy it please continue. Walking is so often “prescribed” because it is free, accessible to everyone, most people can do it safely, no special equipment or special training are required. And let’s face it, so much better than sitting on the couch right.
But is it really effective?
For most people the answer is ‘no’ for two primary reasons.
One, it is too easy.
Two, it only really helps with your cardiorespiratory system.
In the following clip I describe the benefits of both as well as the view to all aspects of Physical Function and how working with a Functional Aging Specialist at our Fit Body Forever Program can benefit you.
If you said strength training then you are certainly getting a little closer.
As we get older muscle mass and strength decline significantly which can lead to difficulties in performing many of life’s common activities such as climbing stairs, getting out of a chair, anything involving manual labor like gardening.
However, the type of strength training you do is very important. Traditional weight lifting, like you see here, where you try to work on a single muscle at a time, is great for improving muscle strength. You’ve probably seen many different types of weight lifting machines that traditional gyms like to use. But this type of strength training also has some serious limitations.
Mainly, it doesn’t match how our muscles work which is in a complex coordination with lots of other muscles. Rarely do they work all alone…in isolation.
Now if you were to start a daily walking program and engage in traditional style weight lifting 2-3 days per week would it benefit you? Yes, absolutely. You would definitely see some improvements.
But would it give you the best results? Would it significantly affect your aging trajectory? Would it ensure your Functional Longevity?
Probably not…and here is why. You are only working on two, strength and aerobic conditioning, of over 32 Functional Variables our bodies should be trained for.
You see, your ability to move and groove is complicated. Physical movement relies on lots of systems working together efficiently and accurately.
When we consider all of the important factors that allow us to dance, throw the grand-kids into the air, swing a golf club, catch ourselves from falling when we trip, or any task you can think of you realize that just focusing on only two of these will really limit the potential for improvement.
Strength and aerobic fitness are important
but so is balance.
So is agility.
So is our mental acuity.
So is coordination.
All of these are important for function and all of these tend to decline as we get older and the decline is more reapid the more inactive we are.
This is the science behind the Functional Aging Training Model that we use in the Fit Body Forever Program.
When you assess a fitness program for yourself consider if it is helping you to improve in all six of the primary physical functions.
Mobility, your ability to move safely, navigate objects and steps
Balance, your ability to avoid falls, get up an move from sitting positions
Cardio Respiratory, how well you metabolise oxygen and sustain activity (endurance)
Cognitive Emotional, your ability to maintain a positive mental attitude, remain confident, think clearly and solve complex problems
Neuro-muscular, how well you coordinate your movements and how quickly you can respond
Musculo-Skeletal, strength, speed, power, muscular endurance and joint mobility
Did you know that muscle power is actually a much better predictor of functional ability than muscle strength? And that power training is more effective than strength training for improving functional ability? It’s true yet you hardly ever find anyone recommending power exercises for older adult? At Fit Body Forever we automatically incorporate speed and power movements safely into the exercise routines because we know how effective it is.
If you are ready to generate more quality of movement into you daily activity to improve those daily tasks you need to do, but more importantly to ensure you can continue doing the things you like and want to do in the future, then I highly encourage you to set up some time to talk with us about how Fit Body Forever can work for you.
Click the link below to get more information about our next 21-Day Trial and a Free Copy of my Book Functional at Any Age.