Believe it or not, powering through your daily activities requires a great deal of strength and stamina. Whether you are carrying children, hauling heavy grocery bags, or balancing a bulky laundry basket while climbing the stairs, your muscles are always in motion.

And after a long day, it’s common to feel the physical effects of these repetitive movement patterns in the form of fatigue and soreness. This is especially true if you don’t practice proper posture when picking up people or things.

» READ MORE: Stretching is key to your functional fitness -- if you do it right

But what if you could make these daily exercises easier on your body? One sure-fire solution to help lighten your lifting and carrying load is a weight training routine that strengthens the specific muscle groups that power your day-to-day activities. Although many people tend to avoid weight training exercises altogether due to intimidation or a fear that they’re hard on joints, it may surprise you to learn that this form of training is exactly what you need to protect yourself from wear-and-tear injuries.

Throughout January, we’ve offered ways to improve your quality of life through functional fitness exercises. And because we all have loads to carry, we complete this series with a workout geared toward strengthening this everyday skill.

By using free weights while walking in different ways, you can enhance your coordination, power up your stabilizer muscles responsible for supporting and balancing the body, and boost your proprioception — a kind of “sixth sense” that enables you to move effortlessly.

If you normally use 10-pound weights, opt for something slightly heavier, such as 12 to 15 pounds. As you grow stronger, increase use of heavier weights or increase repetitions. If you tire, stop to rest and resume when ready. Don’t let the simplicity of these exercises fool you. For these to be beneficial, it is vital to focus on form by moving slowly and concentrating on each step. Here’s how:

Five-point form checker

  • When lifting, hinge at the hips, bend the knees, engage the core, keep the back flat, and hold the weights close to the body.

  • Everything is stacked. The ears are over the collarbones, shoulders above the hips, hips over the knees. Tuck the chin and gaze forward.

  • Have a tight grip when holding the weights.

  • Take short strides and move slowly. Do not lean forward while walking. Each step should be just about, or slightly under, a foot apart.

  • Keep the shoulders engaged to improve joint stability.

Farmer’s walk

  • Hold a weight in each hand firmly and let them rest at your sides. With your core engaged, walk forward for 20 counts (10 per leg).

Waiter’s walk

  • With a dumbbell in your right hand, lift it overhead so it’s right above the shoulder. Maintain a slight bend in the elbow.

  • Maintain this form and walk forward for 20 counts. Switch sides and repeat.

Suitcase carry

  • Hold a weight in your right hand and rest it at your side. Slowly walk 20 counts forward with your core engaged, and not leaning toward the weight. Repeat on the opposite side.