FUNdamentals in FUNctional FITness
by Nikki Carrion, MA
FitXpress LLC
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Co-Owner; FitXpress
Nikki Carrion is co-owner of Fit Xpress
Consulting Services in Waterloo, IA.  
She has over 25 years of experience
in the field of health promotion and
says her passion for her work comes
from her desire to practice preventive
health and promote positive lifestyle
changes.  Although she works with a
wide variety of ages, from college
students to older adults, she says her
focus is on empowering older adults
to higher levels of functional fitness.   

Nikki has a graduate degree in
Community Health Education with an
emphasis in Gerontology from the
University of Northern Iowa.  She also
has a number of certifications
including balance training, chronic
disease self- management, exercise
for hip & knee replacements, group
exercise instruction, personal
training, yoga and pilates.


  • MA; Community Health
    Education.  University of
    Northern IA.  Emphasis in


  • Enhance Fitness Master
    Trainer ~ University of
    Washington, WA.
  • Chronic Disease Self-
    management Master Trainer
    ~ Stanford University, CA.
  • Balance Trainer ~ Cal State
    Fullerton, CA.
  • Personal Trainer / Fitness,
    Yoga & Pilates Instruction ~
    Nat'l Exercise Trainers

Nikki Carrion’s primary
passion and mission is to
empower older adults to
higher levels of functional
fitness.  Besides the Relax &
Breathe CEU module,
FitXpress has a series of
chair exercise DVDs as well
as a training module for
activity professionals.  
FitXpress methods are safe
and effective AND
demonstrate how to put the
FUN into FUNction!
For more information go to:
check out the product page.
Empower yourself with
or call 319-404-4219.  
Fundamental #3: Cardiovascular Endurance

“Great to have you back!”  
As many of you are well-aware…September was Healthy Aging® Month!!  This annual
observance is designed to focus national attention on the positive aspects of growing
older.  In addition, International Active Aging Week will be recognized the last week of
September and culminates as we head into October when the International Day of
Older Persons is recognized on October 1st.   The goal of the latter is to encourage
active aging among older adults which is a perfect complement to the very purpose of
this month’s column; cardiovascular endurance.

The concept of active aging can be summed up in the phrase “engaged in life.”  Active
aging includes the idea of being physically active in an effort to maintain functional
fitness.  Persons who are physically active reap a wealth of benefits that are said to spill
over into additional healthy habits related, and active aging is the key to quality of life
and independence for all of us, including your RPs.  

Fundamental #3, cardiovascular endurance, is not an option.  Without endurance of the
heart and lungs, quality of life is minimized.  To begin, understand that efforts to
strengthen the heart and lungs are as simple as doing anything that serves to raise the
rate of breathing and heart rate above the norm.  In addition, these efforts are likely to be
slightly different from one person to the next.  The activity that accomplishes the task for
one RP is not necessarily what will be effective for the next.  The person who is a little
more active may have to do a bit more to elevate the breathing pattern and heart rate
than the person who is largely sedentary.  Efforts can be added together too!  5 minutes
here…3 minutes there…the goal is to be active for a total of about 30 minutes a day on
most days of the week.  

Here are a few QUICK TIPS for accomplishing this task, individually or in a group:
  1. Walking…inside or out.  Halls are a great place to get it done and socialize at
    the same time!  
  2. Turn on some tunes and encourage some chair dancing!
  3. Do some knee lifts and/or heel lifts while reaching up with the arms.  (e.g.
    Getting the arms up over the head in-and-of-itself serves to  elevate the heart
    rate, even If the legs stay stationary.     
  4. Simulate rowing a boat…changing-up the kind of boat periodically too        (e.g.
    canoe; one oar OR fishing boat; 2 oars).
  5. Seated; pretend to take a trip to the playground, and challenge RPs to recreate
    activities they remember from their childhood (e.g. hop scotch, jump rope,
    jumping jacks, basketball, etc).
  6. Make some noise (e.g. hoot n holler/stomp n clap) in an effort to make the
    activities of choice FUN!  
  7. Encourage RPs to have a certain time each day devoted to moving/being active.
  8. Promote the buddy system.  Exercising with a friend, or in a group, serves as a
    great support system and will help keep RPs on track.

The FitXpress DVD series is designed specifically for lower functioning older adults,
and many of these titles have a FUN cardiovascular strength and endurance
component.  To see clips of the various titles, go to or call 1-800-
481-7449 for a sample DVD.

See you right back here next month when we will be discussing yet another
fundamental of functional fitness.  Until then…have a healthy day!