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Functional Movement Exercises: A Solution for Women experiencing challenges with midlife.

Why you should add functional movement to your exercise routine.

In today's world, there are numerous engaging and distinctive ways to maintain a healthy lifestyle. From Pilates to HIT, Hot Yoga to Crossfit, the range of options is vast.

As a fitness professional for more than three decades, I never had to worry about staying lean and strong until my mid-fifties. While in my forties, my teaching schedule consisted of more intense workouts like spin, kickboxing, and total body conditioning classes. However, over the past five years, I have leaned towards low-impact workouts, such as Pilates, Yoga, walking, and bike riding to adjust to my body's need to slow down.

Despite the endorphin thrill of high-intensity workouts, I began to notice the stress it was putting on my body. Running trails or engaging in high-impact activities no longer felt nourishing. Not only did these workouts begin to cause me more aches and pains, but it also led to increased cortisol production in my body which wasn't helping.

It's reassuring to know that there is a wealth of scientific research on the benefits of functional movement exercises for post-menopausal women. It is well documented that most adults will lose between five and seven pounds of muscle every decade (Westcott and Baechle 1998).

Reversing My Weight Gain and Strength Loss through Prioritizing Strength Training

After experiencing considerable weight gain and strength loss, I discovered that my body lacked a considerable amount of muscle. I realized that my frequent hot yoga classes while making me feel great, were too repetitive for my body. They were not enough to combat the significant loss of muscle mass I was experiencing each year. Therefore, I decided to give priority to strength training in my fitness regimen, which helped me regain my strength and reverse my weight gain.

I learned that weight training programs including Functional Movements for women are effective in preserving muscle mass and preventing sarcopenia and the decline of metabolic rate and I set out to put this new theory to the test.

Beginning with a yoga sculpt class, I noticed some positive changes in my body which encouraged me to add two more classes to my weekly routine. These classes included functional movements, resistance bands, and weights. After several months of consistent exercise, I have noticed an increase in muscle mass and overall improvement in my health and wellness.

Functional movement exercises are designed to improve the way your body moves in everyday life, by training multiple muscle groups to work together. These exercises mimic natural movements such as pushing, pulling, squatting, and lifting, and can help improve balance, flexibility, mobility, and overall strength.

Functional movement exercises can also be referred to as natural movement exercises, multi-joint exercises, compound exercises, whole-body exercises, or everyday movement exercises. By incorporating functional movement into your workouts, you can improve your strength, balance, coordination, and overall fitness while also enjoying a fun and engaging workout experience.

These whole-body exercises can be tailored to suit people of all ages and fitness levels and can be used to prevent injury, recover from injury, and improve athletic performance. Examples of functional movement exercises include squats, lunges, push-ups, planks, and deadlifts.

These exercises can be effective in addressing issues like weight gain, muscle loss, and strength depletion. In my experience, I realized that I needed to adjust the balance of my workouts.

Functional movement exercises are becoming increasingly popular for their many benefits including:

Improved overall fitness: Functional movement exercises work multiple muscle groups simultaneously, leading to improved fitness levels and overall health.

Reduced risk of injury: By working muscles more naturally, functional movement exercises can help reduce the risk of injury during exercise or in daily life.

Increased flexibility: Functional movement exercises use a wide range of motion, which can improve flexibility and mobility over time.

Greater efficiency: By incorporating functional movement exercises into your routine, you can work multiple muscle groups simultaneously, saving time and increasing efficiency.

Improved quality of life: By improving overall fitness, reducing the risk of injury, and increasing flexibility, functional movement exercises can help improve your quality of life and make everyday activities more accessible and enjoyable.

One of my favorite things about Functional movement is that it can be a great way to stay active and healthy, and it doesn't have to be confined to the gym. By taking your functional movement routine outside, you can enjoy the benefits of fresh air, natural scenery, and the freedom of movement that comes with being in an open space.

Here are some ways to incorporate functional movement into your outdoor routine:

  • Take a hike on a nature trail to improve your balance and endurance.

  • Use a park bench for step-ups and incline push-ups to work on your strength and stability.

  • Find a grassy area for bodyweight exercises like squats and lunges to build lower body strength.

  • Use resistance bands or a suspension trainer to challenge your body in a variety of ways.

  • Incorporate yoga or Pilates movements for improved flexibility and core strength.

  • Try out some outdoor sports like basketball, soccer, or frisbee to improve your coordination and agility.

In addition to the improvements functional movement exercises made in my life, they can benefit a wide range of people, including:

  • Athletes looking to improve their performance and reduce their risk of injury.

  • Individuals recovering from an injury or surgery who need to regain strength and mobility.

  • Seniors looking to maintain their independence and reduce their risk of falls.

  • Individuals with chronic pain or conditions such as arthritis, who need to improve their mobility and reduce pain.

  • Anyone looking to improve their overall fitness and movement abilities, regardless of age or fitness level.

These days I am much happier with how my body is looking and feeling and I attribute this to the addition of functional movements into my weekly fitness habits. Yoga + weights is one of my favorite ways to move my body and Yoga sculpt is the perfect blend of the two creating long, lean, strong muscles. The strength benefits of weights mixed with the lengthening and mindful components of yoga provide a full body workout.

In conclusion, if you are frustrated about the state of your post-menopausal body, I suggest adding some functional movements into your fitness routine and getting to work at replacing the muscle loss that just comes as a result of aging bodies. Movement is medicine. You've got this.

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