Recently, I read a blog by a well known strength and conditioning coach where the author “confessed” he has been doing a little bit of slow running. I say confess because for the last few years the fitness industry has been sort of anti-endurance exercise, and, coupled with the media publishing stories about risks related to enlarged hearts, the people that hated running all along have been sitting on the couch saying, “I told you so. At least I won’t die from running,” to their running friends. It can be terribly confusing for a non-fitness professional to weed through all of the information and know what is required for general fitness. Below is a list of things I think everyone, regardless of age, should be able to do. Obviously, if you are training for a specific sport of event, some of the time spent doing these things might vary, but for the general population (the bulk of my clientele), it is my opinion the following things enhance quality of life.
Walk on varied terrain for 60 minutes. This doesn’t mean every day, but it is something that should be practiced somewhat regularly. The ability to move across rocks, sand, and varied inclines can be quite a challenge for someone that never does it. (And just because you run doesn’t make you a good walker. I have known a surprising number of endurance athletes that find hiking more strenuous than a 7 mile run on asphalt).
Reach your arm overhead. Just your arm. Don’t arch your back, or lean to the side, or any other contortionist move.
Get up off of the floor five different ways. I have seen challenges that suggest a person should be able to get up off of the floor more ways than that, but for the average person, I think five is a good number (and this can become an entire workout. The ability to get up and down in a varied and controlled manner can be surprisingly challenging).
Pick up something that is heavy, move it across the room, and set it down. Unless you have the ability to hire movers for all things, the ability to pick up something that is heavy is extremely important, and in my experience, heavy things are usually being picked up because they need to be moved to a different location.
Step over, under, and up things of varying height.
Pull yourself up. This doesn’t necessarily mean a full pull-up (though pull-ups are one of my personal favorite exercises), but it does mean having the strength to hoist yourself up on something that is a little bit taller than you had expected.
There are, of course, many other things that could be added, but the items on this list are what generally cause clients to come in the next session and tell me how training has impacted their daily life.