Functional fitness exercises train your muscles to help you do everyday activities safely and efficiently.
Functional fitness exercises are designed to train and develop your muscles to make it easier and safer to perform everyday activities, such as carrying groceries or playing a game of basketball with your kids.
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. For example, you can use resistance bands or dumbbells at home, or do body weight movements.
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, help 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 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: Multi-directional lunges, Standing row, Squats
Multi-directional lunges help prepare your body for common activities, such as vacuuming and yard work. 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 if you have health problems, it's a good idea to check with your doctor before starting any new exercise program. Similarly, if you're pregnant, check with your doctor. Moderate activity is generally safe during pregnancy if you're healthy, but your doctor can assess what's best for you.
It's also a good idea to start with body weight exercises. As you become more fit and ready for more of a challenge, you can add more resistance such as weights or resistance bands. But be careful not to add too much resistance to exercises that require high impact, as this places joints and soft tissues at more risk if these exercises aren't performed optimally.
The functional fitness payoff
As you continue with functional fitness training you should see improvements in your ability to perform your everyday activities and in your quality of life. That's quite a return on your exercise investment.