Functional movement is defined by physical activities that focus on supporting someone’s daily routine. Pilates equipment is designed around household furniture; think twin-sized bed or standing up out of a chair. Joseph Pilates specifically developed the exercises in an effort to enhance one’s ability to enjoy everyday activities of daily living. As a functional movement method of exercise, Pilates supports healthy aging.
What is functional movement?
Think of functional as rolling out of bed, getting up off the floor. It’s reaching for something up high, or even when you look to the left before turning. Functional movement patterns like these make up a lot of our daily activities. And these are activities we don’t want to lose as we age.
Firstly, by aging, we mean the gradual loss of your range of motion, your flexibility, and your strength. Also, let’s be honest it’s not just vanity, getting older brings changes in your weight, body composition, and muscle tone. Aging, in that sense, is part of life and it doesn’t just start when you suddenly turn “old”. It happens gradually each day.
Secondly, let’s talk about how all of us have unique physical fitness goals. Some of these are based on our unique daily activities. For example, a young parent wants the ability to pick up and carry their child without strain. Someone who works at a desk daily wants to be able to run a marathon! And many of us may have the goal of staying toned, slim, and fit throughout life. More on how Pilates delivers a toning workout here.
But, unfortunately what can keep us from being able to pick-up a child, successfully run a long-distance, or improve our overall tone and fitness level is injury. Functional exercises balance whole-body alignment with that of muscle development helping to avoid injury. So you can keep doing what you love for as long as you love it!
How does Pilates support healthy aging?
Joseph Pilates was a constant tinkerer and inventor. He studied the body in order to understand how functional movement patterns, as the foundation to our daily activities, support healthy aging. A lot of our daily activities are more simplified variations of exercises he developed for his students nearly 95 years ago. Talk about aging!
He studied how the command center, our nervous system, coordinates each voluntary and involuntary movement. Adding observations on how the skeletal system provides support from which to cue alignment. And how the heart and lungs pump fuel through the body.
While teaching, your Pilates instructor is thinking about your daily activities which create repetitive movement patterns, for instance sleeping on your side, driving to work, then sitting at a desk during the day. They’re taking into consideration your occupation which also may affect your physical fitness. For example, are you inactive from 8-5 or on your feet all day? Then they’re incorporating challenging exercises, like Swan to help open the chest and build posture or Series of Five which builds abdominal strength to support the low back. All of these Pilates exercises focus on improving functional movement to meet your fitness goals and support healthy aging!
Examples of functional exercises.
The Take Away
Aging is a part of life and whether young or old, experienced mover or a newcomer, function exercise methods help you feel and perform better! Balancing structural, mental and behavior patterns, Pilates’ functional exercises support healthy aging.
As someone who also performs multifaceted daily activities, your Pilates instructor understands functional movement patterns! And through their training and self-practice, they understand the importance of perfect synergy of all these systems working together for healthy aging.
By keeping the body systems coordinated and working together, functional fitness methods, like that of Pilates, keep your body moving each day with ease, supporting healthy aging.
THE INFORMATION EXPRESSED ON THIS SITE IS FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. WHILE WE DRAW ON OUR EXPERTISE AS PILATES AND MOVEMENT SPECIALISTS, EXPANDING OUR PROFESSIONALISM THROUGH CONTINUING EDUCATION AND PERSONAL EXPERIENCES, WE AIM TO PROVIDE VALUABLE INFORMATION CONCERNING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, PILATES, FUNCTIONAL MOVEMENT AND FITNESS. YOU TAKE FULL RESPONSIBILITY FOR ALL DECISIONS NOW OR IN THE FUTURE CONCERNING YOUR HEALTH, LIFE AND WELL-BEING. THIS INFORMATION IS NOT TO BE USED AS MEDICAL ADVICE EITHER TO DIAGNOSE, TREAT, CURE, OR PREVENT ANY DISEASE OR AILMENTS. YOU SHOULD CONSULT A PHYSICIAN BEFORE BEGINNING ANY EXERCISE PROGRAM.