The Mayo Clinic
What is functional fitness training?
Functional fitness exercises train your muscles to work together and prepare them for daily tasks by simulating common movements you might do at home, at work or in sports. While using various muscles in the upper and lower body at the same time, functional fitness exercises also emphasize core stability.
For example, a squat is a functional exercise because it trains the muscles used when you rise up and down from a chair or pick up low objects. By training your muscles to work the way they do in everyday tasks, you prepare your body to perform well in a variety of common situations.
Functional fitness exercises can be done at home or at the gym. Gyms may offer functional fitness classes or incorporate functional fitness into boot camps or other types of classes. Exercise tools, such as fitness balls, kettle bells and weights, are often used in functional fitness workouts.
What are the benefits of functional fitness training?
Functional exercises tend to use multiple joints and numerous muscles. Instead of only moving the elbows, for example, a functional exercise might involve the elbows, shoulders, spine, hips, knees and ankles. This type of training, properly applied, can make everyday activities easier, reduce your risk of injury and improve your quality of life.
Functional exercise training may be especially beneficial as part of a comprehensive program for older adults to improve balance, agility and muscle strength, and reduce the risk of falls.
What are examples of functional fitness exercises?
Comprehensive physical movements found in activities such as tai chi and yoga involve varying combinations of resistance and flexibility training that can help build functional fitness.
Other examples of specific functional fitness movements that use multiple joints and muscles include:
- Multidirectional lunges
- Standing bicep curls
Multidirectional lunges help prepare your body for common activities, such as vacuuming and yardwork. To do a lunge, keep one leg in place and step out with the other leg — to the front, back or side — until your knee reaches a 90-degree angle and your rear knee is parallel to the floor.
Are functional fitness exercises for everyone?
If you haven’t exercised for some time or have health problems, it’s a good idea to check with your doctor before starting any new exercise program. Similarly, women who are pregnant should check with their doctors.
It’s also a good idea to start with exercises that use only your own body weight for resistance. As you become more fit and ready for more of a challenge, you can add more resistance in the form of weights or resistance tubing. Performing movements in the water is a low impact way of achieving functional exercise.
The functional fitness payoff
As you add more functional exercises to your workout, you should see improvements in your ability to perform your everyday activities and, thus, in your quality of life. That’s quite a return on your exercise investment.
WHERE TO GET A PROGRAMME and ADVICE ON RECOMMENDED PHYSICAL ACTIVITY LEVELS
***NOTE: If you haven’t exercised for some time, or have health problems, then Checking your health with a G.P. is IMPORTANT, but it’s also worth noting a study by Jowanski C,A and Ladewski M (2014) in which only ONE in THREE adults who see a physician or healthcare professional in the first year will report receiving any counselling on either beginning or maintaining an exercise programme as part of their visit.
The study also notes that counselling of Physical Activity (P.A.) by physicians has increased slightly from 23% in 2000 to 32% in 2010, with the highest rates in overweight or obese patients, and those in high risk subgroups where P.A. has been shown to have health benefits.
But even though physicians believe in the benefits of P.A. for prevention and treatment of chronic diseases, 68% are unwilling to include it in their patients visit.
The study notes that a lack of time and inexperience with counselling on exercise by healthcare providers, were the two main obstacles in including P.A. in the visit, and there was also a belief that patients will not adhere to a P.A. plan so there is less incentive to prescribe such a plan during the visit.
***NOTE: 68 PERCENT OF PHYSICIANS /HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONALS ARE UNWILLING TO INCLUDE PHYSICAL ACTIVITY AS A MEDICINE IN THEIR PATIENTS VISIT.
WHY??? LACK OF KNOWLEDGE and INEXPERIENCE IN EXERCISE AND HEALTH-FITNESS, lack of time, and a belief that patients will not adhere to a Physical Activity plan.
TIP: Go to an Advanced Health and Exercise Specialist, or an experienced Exercise and Health Fitness Professional, for Physical Activity advice and recommendations if recovering from a chronic disease, illness, injury, or planning to start an exercise programme.