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Functional Fitness at 50 and Older Presented by Maureen Hagan BScPT, BA PE ACE, Can-Fit-Pro Certified Your speaker today… Maureen Hagan Physiotherapist IDEA International Program Director of the Year—1998 Vice President- Operations, GoodLife Fitness Clubs, Canada

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functional fitness at 50 and older

Functional Fitness at 50and Older

Presented by

Maureen Hagan


ACE, Can-Fit-Pro Certified

your speaker today maureen hagan
Your speaker today… Maureen Hagan
  • Physiotherapist
  • IDEA International Program Director of the Year—1998
  • Vice President- Operations, GoodLife Fitness Clubs, Canada
  • Director of Education-Can-Fit-Pro
session objectives
Session Objectives…

Learn how to build a functionally strong body for the golden years of living:

  • Evaluate the unique benefits associated with functional fitness exercise,
  • Review training principals specific to developing functional neuro-muscular fitness that will enhance physical performance, quality of independent living and help minimize risk for falling.
  • Discuss specific exercises and learn how to develop and implement a one-on-one or small group functional fitness program incorporating a variety of equipment options.
benefits associated with functional exercise
General benefits are many and include (but not limited to):

Increases bone density and strength,

Enhances mobility,

Increases stamina,

Enhances quality of sleep,

Reduces joint stiffness and pain,

Increases lean muscle mass,

Enhances metabolism; body composition,

Decreases risk for aging related injuries and diseases

Increases opportunities to meet and socialize with people and function independently.

Specific benefits associated with functional exercise include (but limited to):

Improves posture and muscular balance,

Improves body control and coordination,

Improves ability to move more effectively and efficiently,

Help prevent risk of overuse injury and falls,

Improves Activities of Daily Living (ADL’s),

Reduces fear of falling commonly associated with declining visual, vestibular and somatosensory systems,

Increases confidence and quality of life.

Benefits Associated withFunctional Exercise:
functional fitness a balancing act
Functional Fitness—a Balancing Act

Strength and Stability

Strength (Resistance) training increases:

  • Lean (skeletal) muscle mass and physical capacity; metabolism, body composition, aerobic capacity, bone density etc.
  • Muscular strength and endurance,
  • Mobility; coordination, proprioception, skill execution .
functional fitness a balancing act6
Functional Fitness—a Balancing Act

Strength and Stability

Stability training increases:

  • Balance: static and dynamic.
  • Strength of core/postural muscles,
  • Spinal alignment and integrity,

*Strength training alone has only a moderate effect of improving balance. The ability to maintain balance involves a complex set of process that require successful integration of multiple components including the sensory system (visual, vestibular and somatosensory) which are not typically influenced by strength training.

why train strength balance in tandem
Why Train Strength & Balance in Tandem?
  • Static Balance: ability to control posture/position over it’s base of support while standing stationary.
  • Dynamic Balance: ability to react to changes in balance and to anticipate changes as the body moves including maintaining balance while walking and stepping.
  • Visual system: provides information about a person’s position and movement through the environment.
  • Vestibular system: located in the inner ears provides information about head movement and body position in space.
  • Somatosensory system: monitors the body’s position and contact with other objects (including the floor) using muscle receptors that detect limb and body movement and skin receptors that relay information about touch and vibration.

*Based on the input from these three systems, the brain sends signals to muscles that make the necessary corrections to maintain balance; if impaired, the body’s ability to maintain balance diminishes and the risk and fear of falling increases.

functional fitness is training the body to perform as a whole integrated unit
Functional Fitness is training the body to perform as a whole, integrated unit…
  • Develop adequate strength, stabilization and flexibility in key postural muscle groups,
  • Stabilize the core (spine, pelvis and shoulder girdle),
  • Maintain posture and awareness of alignment in a variety of static positions, as well as during dynamic movement,
  • Achieve optimal static and dynamic balance,
  • Enhance a person’s ability to perform ADL’s, as well as maintain or improve health, create/maintain independence, avoid falling/injuries and motivate clients to perform at their best…
functional fitness formula
Functional Fitness Formula…
  • Independence in

performing ADL’s, →

  • Strength-endurance


stability, power →

  • ROM (mobility &

flexibility →

  • Foundation- postural

alignment, gait,

mind-body →

functional fitness formula for all ages
Functional Fitness Formula for ALL Ages:
  • Level 1: Isolate & Educate: Focus on muscle isolation training participants to selectively contract individual muscle groups; increasing awareness and confidence and basic levels of muscle function, adequate strength and flexibility.
  • Level 2: Add External Resistance: with lever length, weights, resistance tubing or bands introducing minimal amounts of stabilization and core alignment introduced.
  • Level 3: Add Functional Training Positions: Progress from lying (prone and supine) to sitting or standing positions so that base of support is reduced and the stabilizer challenge is increased as stabilizers.
  • Level 4: Combine Increased Function with Resistance: from gravity, external weights, or bands and tubes is maximized and overload is increased on the core stabilizer muscles in functional positions.
  • Level 5: Multiple Muscle Groups in Increased Resistance and Core Challenge: integrated total body movement with external resistance and dynamic positions.
  • Level 6: Add Balance, Increased Functional Challenge, Speed and Rotational Movements:
functional fitness program progression
Functional Fitness Program Progression…

Progression One:

  • Low resistance exercises using gravity, light resistance ie tubing,
  • Externally stabilized, performed from a seated or supine position,
  • Performed with a slow and controlled cadence,
  • May or may not involved joint movement.

Progression Two:

  • Low to moderate resistance using machines or dumbbells,
  • May or may not involve external stabilization,
  • Involves either single or multi-joint movement,
  • Performed at a moderate “assimilated” to life/functional need,
  • Involves a great deal of balance.

Progression Three:

  • Multiple joint movement,
  • Involves internal stability factors,
  • Higher level movement exercises,
  • Performed a variable speeds,
  • Mostly free weight exercises.

Research indicates that our individual cells have a life expectancy of about 120 years. After about the age of 30 every person has the ability to alter their life expectancy by as much as 50 years by participating in regular physical activity.

sample program functional 50 fitness
Sample Program…Functional 50 Fitness

Weight bearing/Closed “Kinetic Chain” activities:


  • March forwards and backwards (with reciprocal arms); changing direction while walking, step ups, step downs, heel raises/toe raises
  • Squats (from sitting to standing)- with tubing/bands looped under feet (pull up as you stand)→ lunges→ wall squats and lunges (with stability ball) →integrate upper body ie-squat while lifting ball overhead, lift from squat and rotate side-side, walking lunges
  • Single Leg Standing exercises for integrated balance and integrated upper body conditioning ie- standing con/ecc bicep curls, OH presses, mod rotator cuff, dia wood chop
  • Hip Hinge ie- seated row, standing deadlift/row
  • Side stepping→ progress to traveling moves and sequences ie low impact fitness


  • Alt arm & leg lifts ie- standing, seated, on hands & knees, prone or side lying.
  • Bridge→ Plank→ Side stand →Down Dog
  • Modified push-ups (“Sloppy Push-Ups”) for scapular stabilization and spinal extension→ Up Dog


  • Alt arm & leg lift on hands and knees, prone, supine (“Deadbug”)
  • Abdominal cycle
  • Abdominal rollover
  • V-sit

*Sample 6 week progressive group program available– recommended resources & references

equipment options
Equipment Options…
  • Chair→ Bench
  • Body Resistance- at the wall, on the floor (supine, side-lying, prone)
  • Stability Ball*, small inflated balls
  • Resistance Tubing/Bands- variety of colors (intensity levels),
  • Dumbbells,
  • Med/Plyo balls
  • BOSU Trainer
  • Towels, scarves
  • Wobble boards, foam rollers, Fit Disc
  • ProGliders (new) or paperplates

Have you considered the magic of water fitness?

functional fitness makes good sense
Functional Fitness Makes Good Sense…
  • Health care costs in the USA rank #1 according to the World Health Organization.
  • According to the American Medical Association (July 2000) it costs the US about $5,000 per person per year to ‘manage’ health and only 5% of all monies spent by the US health care system is spent on prevention.
  • The healthier we are as people, or as a nation, the more financial resources we will generate to use for another purpose. That makes good sense!
age is no barrier
AGE is no barrier…


Importance and relationship to everyday life activities (ADL’s),

Benefits that relate to maintaining independent living,

Proper exercise attire and footwear,

Ways to reduce safety hazards in the home or other environments that may results in falls or other injuries,

Alternative functional fitness experiences: Yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi, Water Fitness etc.


Group or partner training

Short term programs/term memberships


Props: chair/counter/cane/wall for support, scarves, paper plates, balloon, string, beach ball etc


Ways to conduct training at home or away; independently

Options for accommodating all levels of ability

Sensitive to marketing and advertising methods (testimonial, newspaper, advertisements, internet)

recommended resources
Recommended Resources…
  • Hagan, Maureen, “FIT-iology- the Study of Fitness In Action”, Volumes I & II, Volumes Publishing
  • Rose, Debra J., “Fall Proof- A Comprehensive Balance and Mobility Training Program” , Human Kinetics 2003
  • Van Norman, Kay A., “ Exercise Programming for Older Adults”, Human Kinetics Publisher, 1998
  • The Canadian Association of Fitness Professionals “Older Adult Fitness Specialist” Certification Manual, Canada 2003
  • ACE “Exercise for Older Adults” Guide for Fitness Professionals
  • The Journal on Active Aging—International Council on Active Aging (ICAA)
recommended references resources
Recommended References & Resources…

Bortz, Walter II, MD, “Prevention: A Solution to Combat Rising Health Care Costs”, ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal, Nov/Dec 2003. Vol 7, No 6

Hagan, Maureen, “WOW- Women On Weights- Teach a Progressive Strength Class” IDEA Fitness Edge, June 2003

Hagan, Maureen, “FIT-iology—the study of fitness in action”, Volume’s I & II

Lang, Annette, “Functional Movement Screening”, Reebok University

Lynch, Daniel, MS “Preparing for a New Order” ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal, Sept/Oct 2003, Vol 7, No 5

your speaker
Your Speaker…
  • IDEA International Program Director of the Year—1998
  • IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year FINALIST 2006
  • Vice President- Operations, GoodLife Fitness Clubs, Canada
  • Director of Education-Can-Fit-Pro (Canadian Fitness Professionals)
  • Licensed Physiotherapist
  • adidas sponsored athlete
  • Author of “FIT-iology-the study of fitness in action,

Volumes I & II

  • Professional Speaker with Canadian Association of Professional Speakers

Mo can be reached at