Moving efficiently is essential for senior athletes of competitive sports, for individuals executing the many functional demands our multiple life roles, and in our ability to carry out routine activities of daily living (ADLs). The physical capacity to perform ADLs in a safe and independent manner without undue fatigue is one way to define functional fitness.
In general, limited capacity for performing ADLs is low among Senior Game athletes. This is affirmed in the ongoing findings from the Senior Athlete Fitness Exam (SAFE) which continues demonstrating National Senior Games athletes are maintaining positive markers of fitness regarding balance, grip strength, flexibility, self-reported falls and recommended minutes of daily physical activity.
However, close observation of a number of athletes reveal that NSG athletes continue competing with varying degrees of movement limitations. Integrating functional fitness into training routines will enhance our ability to move well for ADLs and/or competitive sports.
Training the functional fitness continuum includes several important concepts and key principals. One key principle for seniors is that strength training of all types enhances functional improvement and sports performance. Functional training involves multi-joint movements while training our body in a multidimensional manner. Greater gains come from movements that take place in three dimensional space with free form equipment. It also includes targeted activities that enhance our stability and mobility.
For further reference, check out the video Improve Your Stability and Mobility with These Functional Exercises by Jacqueline Crookford with the American Council on Exercise which demonstrates several key exercises addressing foot stability, ankle mobility, knee stability, hip mobility, spine mobility, and shoulder stability. In addition, find more functional fitness videos, such as the Loaded/Farmers-carry, in the Health and Wellness section at NSGA.com. The NSG Balance video is especially effective in training reactionary balance.