- The Keys To Senior Functional Fitness
The Keys To Senior Functional Fitness
Oct 24, 2017 | Editorials
How many of you reading this consider yourselves physically fit? How would you define physical fitness at your age group? What activities do you perform on a regular basis that require some level of fitness? These are questions to consider when evaluating how physically fit you are. Fitness is not just about your ability to perform athletics. Housework, yardwork, dancing, bingo, shopping, walking, lifting children/grandchildren, and self-care all require some level of fitness. We are all aware of conditions that can be a result of poor fitness: diabetes, cardiac problems, constipation, and poor sleep. Poor fitness leads to limited social and recreational life; we need to spend more time living life than remembering it!
So how do I assess my own fitness level? There are four components of physical fitness for seniors and people of all ages. Strength, flexibility, endurance, and balance/coordination are the four areas that need to be examined. Seniors must realize that fitness directly ties into their level of function and risk of injury. The best way to address your fitness level is to TAKE ACTION! 90% of those who begin to diet and exercise at the beginning of the year lose their motivation come March. Fitness needs to be an ongoing commitment. Time Magazine June 2004 reported that two-thirds of American adults are overweight, and half of those are considered obese.
The good news is that physical therapists are experts in identifying how disease and dysfunciton relate to exercise. Physical therapists can help you develop a focused exercise program specific to your functional needs. We screen seniors using standardized tests for strength, endurance, flexibility, and balance. We can discuss the results with you and create a program to address any deficits found. Tests such as hand grip strength, 12 inch step test for endurance, back scratch flexibility test, and single leg balance are some of the tests used. Can you see how these tests relate to your everyday function? How well can you hold onto a heavy object like a gallon of milk? How confident are you on stairs? Can you scratch your back or put a bra/belt on without pain? Have you had a fall in the past year?
Every person’s definition of fitness will vary. If the questions in this article have made you think about deficiencies in your fitness related to the categories above contact a physical therapist for an assessment. New Jersey is a direct access state, so a prescription is not necessary for a therapist to evaluate and treat a senior that is interested in improving their fitness level. Physical therapists can help identify any physical pathologies that may be hampering your function and refer you to the appropriate doctor if need be. It’s time to take control of your fitness and bring your function to the next level.