by Cody Sipe, PhD
I don’t want you to live a long life. Really I don’t because frankly it’s not enough. I want you to have more than that. If I had my way you would live a long, healthy, productive, fulfilling and meaningful life. Basically I want you to experience what I call functional longevity. I really don’t think anyone wants to live to 100, 90, 80 or even 70 if it means being dependent on others, in chronic pain, on too many medications to count and unable to do all the things they enjoy that makes life meaningful to them. And I wouldn’t want that for you. Plus being sick and dysfunctional is super-expensive. It can drain your retirement account faster than you can say “boo”!
But at the same time I don’t want you to have a short life either. There are way too many experiences you haven’t had yet. Travel, graduations, weddings, great grandchildren, bucket lists…too many things to count. You deserve to have enough time to enjoy all these things in retirement and much, much more.
Let’s face it. Quantity without quality is no fun. Quality without quantity is a ripoff. You really need both quality and quantity to get the most out of retirement years. You need functional longevity.
And you can get it. It is within your reach…as long as you do what it takes. One of the best ways you to reach that goal is to follow an exercise program that is specifically designed for improving functional longevity. I’m not talking about just exercise in general. Almost any type of exercise is good for you in some way but not all exercises or programs are effective for achieving functional longevity.
I’ve been studying functional longevity for 20 years and have devoted my career to learning how to develop exercise programs based on the best possible evidence. I’ve worked successfully with hundreds of clients of all ages, abilities and health conditions. Combining academic expertise with real-world practical experience I’ve developed what I believe to be the best possible exercise strategies for achieving functional longevity.
I don’t want to bore you with my philosophies and the scientific evidence supporting them. So I will get straight to the point and give you some strategies you can use right now.
Here are just a few:
• Work on muscle power, endurance and coordination instead of just strength
• Use kneeling and half-kneeling positions in addition to standing
• Add some agility and dynamic balance movements
• Cut way down on the exercises that isolate muscles and add more exercises that integrate muscle groups (i.e. use many muscle groups simultaneously to complete a task or movement)
• Attack the core regularly and from all directions
• Make your cardio shorter and harder
• Stretch your hips regularly
• Focus on your lower body more than your upper body
• Move in all directions – forward/backward, sideways, turning
• Create imbalance by using one hand at a time
• Replace weight machines with body weight, dumbbells and resistance tubing to allow freedom of movement
• Include shortening (concentric), lengthening (eccentric) and no movement (isometric) muscle contractions
• Stay active with sports, hobbies, work and other tasks on a daily basis
There is so much more I could share on this topic but I don’t want to overwhelm you. Try some of these out and see the difference they will make in your fitness program.
Cody Sipe, PhD is an award-winning fitness professional and university professor with expertise in functional aging.
Stronger Seniors Chair Exercise Program