Weekend Challenge: Functional Lower And Upper Body Strengthener
This weekend’s challenge is a low-impact move that requires very little space. It works the arms, abs, legs, hips, and shoulders, and the only equipment you’ll need is a couple of water bottles or light weights.
The Functional Lower And Upper Body Strengthener is a functionality exercise (as its name indicates), which means it is designed to improve the movements that are a part of day-to-day life. This is especially relevant for older adults who wish to maintain independence.
This balance-improving exercise fits right in with your weight-bearing, bone-strengthening exercise routine because it also stimulates bone growth per Wolff’s Law.
And finally, I can’t wait to share an inspiring story with you at the end of this challenge. It proves you’re never too old to get – and stay – in shape.
So let’s get right to it!
As we age, everyday movements can become more of an effort if we don’t take steps to stay in shape and prevent regression of movement and muscle tone. That’s where functionality exercises come in.
What Is “Functionality”?
In short, functionality refers to the performance of everyday activities: reaching up into a kitchen cabinet, climbing up and down stairs, reaching down to pick up something off the floor, house cleaning, and so forth. Most of us take such movements for granted when they’re easy; but when it becomes difficult to perform such tasks, it’s evident that functionality is compromised.
A more subtle but vital aspect of maintaining functionality is preserving cognitive aptitude and preventing its decline. If you’re struggling with confusion or memory loss, it becomes harder and harder to go about your daily affairs. But once again, exercise is the answer: research clearly shows that regular exercise improves cognitive function and memory. For more on this topic and to review the latest research, be sure to see:
Another key feature of functionality is dependable balance. Savers are undoubtedly familiar with the role balance plays in bone health, but you might not have considered the connection between balance, cognition, and functionality. The fact is, compromised balance means compromised activity levels, and improving one of these greatly enhances the other.
As you take a look at this weekend’s exercise, you’ll see how the motions mimic those of common tasks. In particular, this exercise includes raising the knees, which keeps the hip flexors in shape. These muscles are crucial for preserving your ability to step up and over objects and traverse stairs. Weak hip flexors can result in a “shuffling” gait that increases the risk of tripping and falling.
Grab a couple of water bottles or hand weights between 1 and 3 pounds each. Cans of food work well, too. I know of one Saver who used bags of dried beans!
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Hold one weight in each hand.
- Bend your elbows to bring the weights up to your shoulders, palms facing each other. Then raise your arms straight up over your head, palms facing out, while you simultaneously raise one knee.
- Bring the weights back down to your shoulders and lower your leg. Now bring your arms straight up over your head again, this time lifting the other knee.
- Continue alternating legs and lifting your arms up over your head for 30 seconds, or for as long as you are comfortable. Feel free to repeat as many 30-second sets as you like, whether all at once or interspersed with your regular workout.
Remember, there’s no need to “bounce” – this is a low-impact exercise, so you’re simply lifting your knee and placing your foot back on the ground.
The Functional Lower And Upper Body Strengthener goes particularly well with these previous challenges that also target functionality:
World War II Veteran Still Running At Age One Hundred
Having trouble getting motivated? Here’s an amazing story that will inspire you!
When Orville Rogers decided to take up running at the age of 50, many people undoubtedly thought he was “too old” to embark on such an exercise regimen. But he stuck with his running for decades, competing in his first track competitions at the age of ninety!
That was 10 years ago. Now, at the age of 100, he is still running – training every other day and setting world track records.
Watch the inspiring news report about this remarkable WWII bomber pilot turned athlete:
Have a great weekend!