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The Sub-Domains of Physical Function


In our last blog post, we introduced the idea of the Six Domains of Physical Function. Today we will look at the various sub-domains of each, so that we can better understand how and why it is important to break things out this way when putting together an exercise program for our clients who are aged 60 and up.

As you can see from the chart below, there is a lot going on here! Let's start by looking at some of the components we would want to train if we were looking at a fall prevention program.




A typical "senior fitness program" would have us focus on:

  • Balance (specifically, center of gravity control)

  • Musculoskeletal endurance

  • Walking gait.

It would not have us working on:

  • Obstacle negotiation - Helpful in avoiding falls in the first place. (Think curbs, stairs and sleeping dogs!)

  • Cognitive processing speed - Necessary for the brain to recognize that the fall was happening. We've all heard this before, "Next thing I knew, I was on the floor. I don't even know how I got there!" This is a failure of cognitive processing speed.

  • Neuromuscular reaction time - Necessary for the brain and central nervous system to tell the body to respond appropriately.

  • Musculoskeletal speed and power - Necessary to bring a foot forward


quickly and forcefully to stop a fall.

  • Floor to Stand

Remember this lady?

Don't be this lady!!


As you can see, when we use the 6 Domains of Physical Function as the basis for


all of our training, it gives us a framework to think about what we want to accomplish, and how we can begin to train it!


In our next post, we will be talking about how we begin to prioritize these areas in our fitness programming, and we will look at one of the most important, yet often overlooked areas.


You won't want to miss it!!