Functional Real Exercise Easy (FREE) is a short and simple way to learn core, underlying principles of balance and strength training. The key word here is function. Function is purpose. So functional training is simply training that has a purpose. The purpose is to make changes to how you perform daily tasks in a way that promotes balance and strength.n
FREE was designed in response to the need for older people to have simple options that could be easily performed, acceptable, and sustained over the long term. The goal is to reduce falls and improve functioning in older people by slightly altering activities in ways that improve balance and strength while performing the activities of daily living.
FREE was not designed to be a traditional exercise program. Instead, it was designed to use a person’s daily self-care activities in a way to promote strength and balance while aligning to the skills needed to prevent falls and improve balance.
OK…so let’s look at our three guiding principles for easy ways in which you can begin to gain balance and strength and prevent falls…and it’s FREE!
1. Embedding activities of daily living
Changing a habit is a great way to incorporate balance and strength activities into your daily living. FREE promotes creating new habits in creative ways.
- Do some balance and strength activities while performing your usual daily routines rather than exercising as a separate set of actions.
- Example: Unloading the dishwasher
- Behavior change: Doing multiple partial knee bends
- Result: The dishwasher still gets unloaded and you’ve completed a knee-strengthening activity.
2. Observing behavioral, situational, or environmental opportunities
Changing a behavior is easier than you think when you follow some practical suggestions. Being observant and seizing opportunities allows you to increasingly incorporate FREE principles as your awareness grows.
- Look for opportunities daily to elicit the desired behavior.
- Example: Standing at the kitchen sink, standing in a grocery store line, moving detergent to a lower shelf, moving cereal to a higher shelf
- Behavior change: Bending your knees or going on your toes if reaching for something or while just standing
- Result: You’re doing these activities anyway, so why not use this FREE opportunity to create a stable and enduring habit until it’s embedded as a daily activity.
3. Challenging yourself
Challenging oneself is the merging of mastery and upgrading. FREE is impactful when you continue to challenge yourself by constantly upgrading the level of activity you undertake for balance and strength and mastering the mindset to perform that activity with confidence.
- Look for ways to become autonomous in upgrading your activities and mastering independently.
- Example: The importance of walking with a proper stride, length, base, and pace
- Behavior change: Standing on one leg gives you the potential to improve your walk as well as protect you from falling
- Result: Everyone must walk, so why not walk with purpose. Think about the way you walk, scan ahead, and walk with confidence.