Thursday, February 26, 2009

Translating the Benefits of Exercise into Everyday Life

Why should we exercise? Okay, deep down we all want to look better, that's one motivation. The world knows that and markets accordingly, enough already. What about for improving performance if we're already athletes? That's a good one, but current athletes aren't the ones that seem to lack motivation. What about for improving health or managing disease? That's hitting closer to home, and a topic for a good post. But what happens when even that doesn't seem to motivate us?

Some days we just need the benefits of exercise to be crystal clear and meaningful in the here-and-now before we're motivated to do it, especially for those trying to get motivated to even start exercising.

Think about how exercise can mirror your activities of daily living. This is referred to as functional training. Not a new topic, but critical and often overlooked. There are several definitions of functional training, but I like one offered by Steven Plisk, MS, CSCS*D in a hot topic series publication from the NSCA. "Functional training involves movements that are specific - in terms of mechanics, coordination and/or energetics - to one's activities of daily living."

Here are some simplified examples:

  • Putting groceries on the top shelf of your pantry = overhead press
  • Getting in and out of a chair = squat
  • Picking up a child = clean (or hang clean, depending on the child's behavior!)
  • Getting up off the floor (from getting your dog's ball out from under the couch) = push-up
  • Vacuuming = rows
  • Carrying a baby in a carrier = suitcase deadlift and farmers walk
  • Chasing down a ball before it goes in the street = sprinting
  • Sitting up in bed = crunch
  • Jumping up to swat a ceiling cobweb with a towel = squat jump (am I the only one who does this?)

You get the picture. Now how applicable does exercise seem? If we want to keep doing these activities of daily living, especially as we age, we must exercise. Functional training can be done by anyone, and it is designed to use multi-joint, multi-plane movements where muscles work in a coordinated fashion, mimicking the things we do (or want to be able to do) every day. I see too many people that are still quite young that can't bend over and pick something up off the floor, get out of a booth at a restaurant without struggling, or unload a bag of dog food, much less sprint in the case of a dangerous situation.

So get functional, exercise and stay independent. Remind me to tell you about my 80 year old Dad...


Anonymous said...

You hit this one "outta da park", Kelley! (I was born in New Jersey...)

I LOVE the list you made of the common, daily activities that relate to functional training...definitely one of my favorites of all of your posts.

I'm sure you've read Lou Shuler and Alywn Cosgrove's "New Rules of Lifting" based on your article list and fitness links...but for anyone who likes this post and hasn't read the book, get a copy and check it out. They cover functional training like no one else, in my humble opinion.

Terrific post, Kelley!

PS: You're more ambitious when it comes to cobwebs than I am...

Kelley Moore said...

Wow, thanks Fred! I think about this every time I encounter people who seem a lot older than they really are because they can't move around well. I love Lou Schuler and Alwyn Cosgrove's book New Rules of Lifting and New Rules of Lifting for Women. Your comment made me get it back out - I've adopted several workouts but would like to read it again! k