Embracing functional fitness: A guide for seniors

Man in wheel chair receiving therapy from a trainer.

Did you know that the simple activity of walking up a flight of stairs is beneficial to your heart health and could help you live longer? Climbing stairs is a form of functional fitness.

Simulated stairs

As you get older, functional fitness is important for maintaining mobility, independence and quality of life.

Functional fitness differs from a traditional gym workout in that it focuses on movements that help you with everyday activities, such as:

  • Bending down to pick up an object
  • Getting in and out of bed
  • Reaching up into a cabinet to grab a bowl
  • Sitting down on a chair or the floor and standing up

Why does it benefit seniors?

As you age, your muscle mass decreases, joints get stiffer and balance decreases. Functional fitness can address these challenges by improving your:

  • Strength
  • Balance
  • Flexibility
  • Mobility
  • Coordination

As you work on specific exercises, you can reduce your risk of falling and continue to maintain your independence.

Recommended exercises

Many exercises can be suitable for seniors to help improve functional fitness. Movements that simulate daily activities include:

  • Reaching
  • Bending
  • Lifting

Examples of functional fitness exercises:

  • Squats strengthen your lower body so you can sit and stand easily, among many other benefits. They are known as the best exercise to do as you get older.
  • Lunges increase your leg and hip strength and help with mobility and body alignment when practiced correctly.
  • Balance moves like standing on one leg or using a balance board build strength that prevents falls.
  • Core strengthening that includes planks, modified planks or seated twists help increase your ability to move around.

All exercises can be modified for your fitness level.

Rehab therapy support

Physical therapists and occupational therapists can help you with your functional fitness. At the Good Samaritan Society, our rehab therapy team will work with you to assess your abilities and develop a personalized exercise program to help you meet your goals.

OmniVersa and NuStep

Our therapists help you manage pain and improve your mobility with techniques like manual therapy and therapeutic exercises. They can also address your daily living challenges and recommend assistive devices or modifications to enhance your independence.

You can receive rehab therapy services at one of our many locations or in your home.

Discover the benefits

By incorporating functional fitness into your daily routine, you can maintain your health, mobility and independence.

Consult your doctor before starting any functional fitness routine.

Related resources

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