Functional Exercise: Helping Seniors Stay Independent

Do you know an older adult? Did you know that functional exercise can help increase mobility, flexibility, strength, balance and more?

Functional exercise is a kind of exercise that sprang from the rehabilitation model in which therapists incorporate activities specific to the needs of the patient. Goals are set, and as they are reached, new and higher goals are developed. Functional exercises focus on building a body capable of doing real-life activities in real-life positions, not just lifting a certain amount of weight in an idealized posture created by a gym machine.

Not many people think of seniors when they think of functional exercise programs, but Manassas, Virginia trainer Charles Thomas does. Charles trains seniors who live at the Evergreen House in Annandale, Virginia.  Most of the exercises are performed in chairs. Participants use light bands, 1-3 pound dumbbells, balls and form pads. “We listen to music during class,” Charles says. “We do the functional exercise with added resistance by using bands and weights, but we also perform stretching exercise to increase mobility and flexibility.”

Charles’s program is important because as we age, we lose flexibility, balance and mobility. A sedentary life exacerbates conditions that are somewhat avoidable with exercise. It’s a downward spiral from there: the increase of pain and immobility causes seniors (and people of other ages) to become even more inactive, which makes the issues worse.

Jessica Bell in Chron says, “Staying active with functional exercises – those designed to improve the strength, flexibility and mobility needed for day-to-day activities – can significantly improve your quality of life during your golden years.”

Functional exercise can also reduce the risk of heart disease and Type 2 Diabetes. These exercises can increase cognitive ability and support emotional well-being.

One of the most important benefits of functional exercise for seniors is the decreased likelihood of falls. Bell reports, “After an eight-month follow-up to an original study published in the November 2004 issue of the ‘Journal of Bone and Mineral Metabolism,’ 13.6 percent of elderly participants who participated in a program designed to improve balance experienced falls. Of those who did not participate in the program, 40.9 percent suffered falls.”

And,In a study published in the March 2011 publication of the ‘American Journal of Health Promotion,’ elderly participants who were unable to perform certain daily activities on their own showed significant improvements in functional mobility after participating in a 16-week resistance training program. Functional resistance exercises can use body weight or equipment such as resistance bands, light dumbbells, stability balls and medicine balls.”

Charles’s training is based in science, and his clients appreciate his efforts. Evergreen House has won awards for its programs and services, and Charles is proud to be part of that effort.

Are you an older adult? Do you know someone who could benefit from Charles’s expertise? Email Charles at, or call 571-335-6878.

Charles Thomas is a licensed, insured Personal Trainer certified by the International Sports and Science Association (ISSA).  With over two decades of personal training experience, Charles has helped to improve physical fitness and enhance the quality of life for his clients who range from young children to seniors.

Let me make you unstoppable.

Call 571-335-6878 to schedule and start your personalized journey to a healthier you.

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