We’ve talked about functional fitness before, but as each year passes I gain a better understanding of what it really means. It was only a few years ago, or so it seemed, that fitness was all about spinning classes, pumping iron and losing weight. Today, it is more about feeling good and about being strong enough to be able to take care of myself. What happened? Despite our best effort we have gotten older. Through no fault of our own we find that our: • Muscles are not only smaller and weaker but they are stiff and less flexible • Balance is just a little off • Joints are painful and they make funny noises • Feet hurt all the time This is rather distressing. Activities such as popping out of bed, putting on your shoes, standing up straight and walking briskly, suddenly have to be approached with care. You can either sit back and let Mother Nature beat you down or you can face the challenge and meet it head on. Today is the first day of “training for the rest of your life.” You are embarking on a functional fitness program. This is even more important that training for a half marathon or climbing a mountain because this is the real deal. Functional fitness means having the ability to perform daily activities with ease. We are talking about pushing, pulling, climbing, bending and reaching to make sure that you can get up from a chair or toilet, go up and down stairs, get in and out of bed or in and out of your car. It will mean being able to carry groceries into your kitchen, putting them away, and cooking dinner. This is what we like to think of as Independent Living. These exercises aren’t rocket science but they need to be taken seriously. If you are already in pretty good shape you might be able to do them at home or join a class at a senior center, YMCA. programs or a fitness center. If you are starting from scratch get professional help from a Physical Therapist.