One of the greatest joys—but potentially biggest challenges —for many grandparents is time spent with the grandkids. Whether yours are toddlers or teens, keeping them entertained requires a level of fitness that might include everything from lifting a child to chasing them at the playground to competing in a round of golf. For grandparents seeking an enriching and active experience with their grandkids, it’s important to engage in everyday fitness routines that can help:
• maintain muscle mass
• preserve cardiovascular health
• fortify flexibility
• bolster balance
Functional fitness training can help with these goals.
What Is Functional Fitness?
“Functional fitness uses multiple muscle groups and movements to help train muscles, joints, limbs, and nerves to all work better together for everyday tasks, like lifting groceries from the car, or outmaneuvering the grandkids,” says Jaynie Bjornaraa PhD, MPH, PT. Examples of functional fitness exercises include lunges, squats, and planks. Lunges help improve balance and make the legs stronger. Squats help strengthen the muscles used in sitting, standing, or lifting heavy objects safely. Core training, like planks, helps strengthen the lower back, hips, and abdominal muscles. A strong core provides a stable base when lifting, standing, or performing the chores of every-day life.
There are many ways to incorporate functional fitness into an ev- eryday fitness ro- utine. Workout classes such as Pilates, yoga, or strength training can provide easy access to beginner, intermediate, or advanced exercise routines. Gyms offer in-person classes plus access to most any kind of fitness equipment you may need to practice functional fitness, from mats and free weights to fitness balls and exercise bands.
Some Medicare Advantage plans, offer no-cost or subsidized low-cost access to thousands of standard name-brand gyms and YMCAs. These programs may also in- clude online access to fitness video classes such as dance, cardio, tai chi, Pilates, strength training, yoga, and others that teach proper form and technique.
“Functional fitness offers terrific health benefits for everyone, no matter your age or fitness level,” added Dr. Bjornaraa. “I en-courage my friends, family, and clients to engage in some kind of functional fitness exercise every day to maximize the benefits.”
If you aren’t sure where to begin, you may care to check out a functional fitness exercise video called 3 Functional Exercises Using Only Body Weight at https://www. youtube.com/watch?v=XPj5yCW0KkU