Functional Fitness: Is it For You?

Perhaps the term “functional fitness” is new to you; perhaps how that would look in real life workouts eludes you.  It actually is a centuries’ old method of staying fit… working in real life the way our forefathers and mothers did.  Functional Fitness refers to workouts that utilize the main body motions to challenge your body to function the way it was intended, not just to look good at the gym or on the beach.  Experts in the field describe it as training for life, not training for events.

This 72-year-old woman works out at her neighborhood playground every day! Photo source.

This 72-year-old woman works out at her neighborhood playground every day! Photo source.

Our society finds most of us sitting at a desk or in a vehicle most of our day.  We schedule time at the gym or go for a run, but day in and day out functions do not challenge us to use our bodies in ways that we were meant to. Functional fitness training utilizes muscles to work the way they do in every day tasks such as twisting, flexing, squatting, pushing, pulling, lifting and lunging.

How many times do you know someone who works out at the gym regularly but pulled their back out doing a basic life move such as lifting their 5 year old or spreading mulch in the garden over the weekend?  They may have massive muscles, but they may not be “functionally fit”.

If every day movements such as going up and down stairs, bending to pick things off the floor, or reaching overhead causes you pain, then functional fitness can help you.

Proponents of Cross Training utilize functional fitness in their regime. Clients perform workouts that pursue core strength such as flexibility, coordination, and balance.  The exercises reflect real movements in real life that our ancestors performed daily on the farm.  Exercises are not isolating one muscle group such as traditional weight training does, but ones that work the whole body or at least multiple muscle groups.

If you have not exercised for a while or have a history of health issues, consult with your Dr. before starting.  Even those with back issues can adopt functional fitness into daily exercise.  It is key to understand the movements and proper form to insure good results and avoid injury.

Here are some great basic workouts of 10 functional fitness exercises, and here is a video about more.

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