Regular movement is a powerful practice for improving wellness. It promotes circulation and improves the function of every area of your body and mind. But not all movement is created equal – the gold standard of movement is functional movement. Functional movement exercises mimic everyday life. You need structural and postural stability to execute these tasks with confidence and without injury.
Functional movement top tip one is to begin with the end in mind. Set goals for how functional you’d like to be at which stage of life. For everyday functionality it may be important to you to have the ability to get on and off the floor to play with grandchildren. There may be interests you’d like to be able to continue with, such as gardening or dog walking. There may be sporting activities that you’d like to partake in, whether it’s one of New Zealand’s great walks or just mountain biking with friends. All these activities require a base of strength, flexibility and stamina. Being clear on your goals will keep you motivated to uphold the discipline of your exercise regime.
Functional movement top tip two is to prioritize your posture. Humans are built to be upright for most of the day, but modern lifestyles find us seated for longer periods than ever before. It’s considered a technological advancement that most things can be done from the comfort of your seat. But this hasn’t been an advancement for health. Prolonged sitting compromises your structural stability. If your sitting position isn’t ideal it can put stress on your postural muscles. Without adequate muscle tone to support you, your body can adapt to a slumped stance as it’s new normal.
Functional fitness is key to physical health. The older we get, the more closely linked it is to emotional health as well. It’s empowering to live a life of participation and contribution. It’s disempowering to have mobility issues exclude you from doing the things you enjoy. And it’s depressing to be reliant on others. Poor physical and emotional health can escalate very quickly and once that process begins it can be a challenge to reverse it.
If you’re reading this then you’re a person with a baseline of physical health, with the tools to further improve it. You’re very fortunate today compared to many people around the world. Enjoy the privilege of functional movement and everything it enables you to do in your life.
This article provides general health and wellbeing information. It is not intended to be medical or nutritional advice specific to you. Please consult an appropriate healthcare professional, such as your GP, a registered dietitian or nutritionist for any specific concerns.