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Achieving Functional Fitness

Updated: Apr 15

Functional fitness relates to your independence in terms of mobility such as climbing stairs, getting in and out of a car, getting up from a chair or out of a bath tub without assistance, self-care, being able to control your living environment such as driving, shopping, preparing meals and household chores and maintenance, and being able to enjoy activities such as travel, playing with grand children, pickle ball, tennis, golf, hiking, gardening, and more.


As we age, adequate functional fitness such as strength, endurance, flexibility, agility and balance is critical and quality our of life depends to large extend on being able to do the things we want to do without excess fatigue or pain for long as possible. You may ask yourself:

  1. How much fitness is needed to stay independent?

  2. And how do you know if you are on track to stay independent?


Preserving independence

A lifestyle of too much sitting, reclining, lying down or just insufficient or incorrect exercise leads to loss of strength, loss of bone density, increasing balance problems which leads to falls, increasing risk for injury, dependency, and premature death. Many older adults are living dangerously close to losing their independence, especially when normal daily activities require maximal or near maximal effort. To find out your functional fitness level or how close you are to losing your precious independence we can conduits specific assessments. Studies show that physical frailty which is associated with aging could be reduced if we paid more attention to our physical activity level and fitness as we age, especially when evolving weaknesses can be detected and treated early on.


Although a number of conditions (mental confusion, vision loss, dementia and Alzheimers can rob people of their independence, problems with physical mobility rank at the top of the lost and is for the most part preventable.


Early detection of functional declines

The Fullerton Functional Fitness Test (previously called Senior Fitness Test (SFT)) is a battery of test items that measures the physical abilities of older adults 60-94+ years of age that are needed to remain mobile and physically independent in later years. We can determine your strengths and weaknesses and able to design a targeted exercise training program that meets your unique wellness goal. The test may also be suitable for people younger than 60 with medical conditions. This assessment meets the scientific standards for reliability and validity.

We have have the information which level of fitness is needed to support functional fitness, mobility and physical independence as you age and this allows the health fitness professional to design and adjust exercise programs that meets that criteria.


Fighting frailty

Physical frailty is commonly associated with aging, however, frail is often preventable,

and can be reduced if we paid more attention to our physical activity level and fitness as we age. Frailty leaves someone vulnerable to injury, illness, and disability which could be reduced or prevented if we paid more attention to our physical activity level and fitness as we age, especially if evolving weaknesses could be detected and treated early on.


The Fullerton Functional Fitness Test, previously called Senior Fitness Test, is a battery of test items that covers the major components of fitness for older adults (lower-and upper-body strength, aerobic endurance, lower-and upper-body flexibility, agility and balance) needed to perform everyday activities in later life. This test can detect strengths and weaknesses so that appropriate intervention can begin. The Fullerton Functional Fitness Test also provides the minimum test scores (called the Fitness Standard) older adults should strive for at their age in order to be able to remain physically independent until late in life (90+).Rikly and Jones 2012


Falls prevention

Falls are the #1 reason older adults lose their independence. Fall risk screening and the Functional Fitness Test when performed on a regular basis can detect evolving weaknesses and strength so that an appropriate exercise and physical activity program can be developed. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that one in every four older adults 65 years and older falls annually.


Are you shooting from the hip?

Any senior or older adult exercise program developed without these above mentioned tests is like ‘shooting from the hip, you may hit or miss your target fitness goal.


Your time is valuable

When an older adult is at increased risk for falling the chance falls increases with age and you have no time to lose and are in need of immediate intervention of an exercise program that specifically has been designed to target weaknesses and addresses impairments. Planning to stay independent starts by determining your current level of fitness and function. Proper assessment can be the difference between independence and dependency as you age.


Performing the functional fitness test once or twice a year and when medical status changes can help detect slight changes and a trajectory. Acting on this information can prevent loss in function and delay or slow down declines in function over a lifetime and help you extend your independence or stay independent.


We can conduct the Functional Fitness Test in the comfort and privacy in your home, additional assessments can be performed such as a Fall-Risk Screen and /or more detailed multi-sensory balance and mobility assessments. We use this information to develop and exercise prescription and design exercise programs that work.


References

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