Functional and Efficient Workouts

How to get the best and long term results from your workouts
How to get the best and long term results from your workouts

Hopefully by now you have figured out how to schedule in your workouts, and been successful at making appointments with yourself to do so. We all know how important it is to be healthy and fit to live the best quality life we can for ourselves, families, and children. The number one way to get your families involved, particularly your children, is to set the example. This goes for all topics I have written about before, as well as being physically active. With any exercise program make sure with you check with you doctor that you are doing what is right for you.

After the age of 50 each of us begins to lose about 10%of lean muscle mass per year. This is why you see the older population having a harder time getting around, and a harder time doing essential tasks such as getting up and down out of a chair, or getting in and out of the bed. That’s why I believe in FUNCTIONAL exercises and strength training as a foundation for your overall health. Working in Physical Therapy has allowed me to really see how inactivity can really make your later years much tougher to get through. Those who have been active for most of their life heal from surgeries faster, recuperate from hospital visits faster, get sick less, and have less mental deterioration. Not only does exercise on any level help to build strength and endurance, but it helps with circulation, brain function, blood pressure, which in turns helps with lowering cholesterol , also, preventing Type II diabetes, increases over all body-chemistry (metabolism, and how the body processes food), etc.

I think most of us know the benefits of maintaining your fitness level but I think that there is a misconception on how much time it takes to fit and exercise program into our lives. It is not necessary to spend 2 hours in the gym moseying around from machine to machine (or free- weights). When you exercise efficiently you should be burning fat/calories, and building strength at the SAME time. I know there are many of you who like to run for miles on end, and if this is what you like to do, then please do not let me be your “exercise-pooper,” but this is NOT functional. At age 70 you need to walk to your mailbox, not run after your mail man. So for all those beginners out there, please do not be intimidated, and no longer should you get turned off by the thought of having to run miles, or spend all day in the gym to get to your ideal fitness level.

So of course you can do all kinds of easy stuff like taking stairs vs. elevators, parking in the furthest place in the parking lot of a shopping center, and while this is all well and good they do not create the long term results we are looking for. However, combining activities do! Walking or taking the stairs with weights in your hands would be more ideal. If you work a desk job, you should be getting up to move about every hour, or between phone calls, (bring hand weights with you to work), get up and do squats and bicep curls at the same time; lunges with side arm raises; sumo squats with overhead triceps extensions. The point is combining lower body exercises with upper body exercises burns calories and builds strength (tone)! Of course you can put the weights down and do a few jumping jacks, or “jump ropes,” or run in place (high knees or kicking your butt). You can do this at your lunch break with a workout partner for accountability. When you take bathroom breaks and are washing your hands you can do some leg lifts out to the side or to the back, or calf raises. If you cannot do push-ups (male or female versions) do wall push-ups. Most people don’t know that push –ups not only work your chest muscles, but also your abdominal (core) muscles at the same time. If you are a “couch potato” you can do any number of these things during the commercial breaks. And OBVIOUSLY if you are not that strapped for time you can spend 20 minutes each day doing a whole regimen of these types of activities whether at home or in the gym. If you workout at the gym, do your cardio exercises between your strength exercises instead of resting between sets. For example: 15 chair squats with anterior shoulder raises, then do two rounds of 30 seconds intervals of standing mountain climbers, then horse stance punching. For those who need a little more guidance, get a 20 minute workout video to help you. Jillian Michaels incorporates circuit training with most of her videos! OR If you want in-person and personalized sessions, come join one of our bootcamp circuit training workouts!! Call us or schedule an appointment at

Circuit training can help with your overall fitness goals
Circuit training can help with your overall fitness goals

And for those who are a little older and/or want a really soft start to start maintaining your health, here are some functional exercises that will help to build your foundation:

Sitting in a chair (do between 10-20 repetitions):

Marches, Pillow squeezes (put pillow between your knees and squeeze open and closed holding for about 5 seconds each), Kicks (lift and lower your leg, holding at the top for about 5 seconds, do one set on one leg, then do the other leg).

Standing (holding on with one hand or two, or none, depending on your fitness and balance level; Challenge your abilities as you get more confident):

Calf raises, marches, lifting leg out to the side (outer thigh), lift leg straight out to the back, Heel-to the butt (standing hamstring curls), and mini-squats (OR sit to stands out of a stationary chair with handles).

Hope this helps to put your workout routines into a better perspective. There are many more exercises that can be done, but there are too many out there to mention in this short time. In future blogs, I may throw out an exercise to two to keep adding to your arsenal, so keep on the lookout, and in the meantime don’t forget to HAVE fun and know that you are doing something wonderful for yourself!

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