What Is Functional Fitness?

By Laurie Fanelli in Healthy Feeling

Have you ever grunted when picking up a gallon of milk or lost your breath walking up a flight of stairs? There is a new exercise trend emerging to help people feel strong and confident as they go about their day, and it's called functional fitness. So what is functional fitness?

According to the Mayo Clinic, "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." Most functional fitness exercises combine muscle groups in low-impact strength-training routines to slowly and safely achieve results.

Functional fitness exercises can be done at home, but it is a good idea to try some sessions with a trainer to ensure that each move is completed correctly to prevent injuries. A trainer can also help you pinpoint problem areas and target specific muscle groups safely and effectively.

As with any new regimen, be sure to consult with your doctor before incorporating functional fitness into your workout routine, especially if you have existing health concerns, injuries, or are pregnant.

What Is Functional Fitness?

Whereas traditional weight training focuses on one muscle at a time functional fitness elements typically involve groups of muscles working together, just like they do in everyday life. Several common exercises including push-ups, pull-ups, and dumbbell squats strengthen several muscle groups while making it easier to complete daily activities like getting up off the floor and lifting heavy boxes.

Even simple yoga poses can be integrated into your workout routine as part of functional fitness. One of my favorite positions is the Downward Facing Dog; it stretches the calves while strengthening the core and elongating the shoulders and back. I will often take advantage of five free minutes to perform this move. It also strengthens the hands and wrists, which helps with daily tasks like opening jars, carrying bags, and typing on a keyboard.

To begin this pose, start on your hands and knees with your weight distributed equally. Use your hands and feet for balance as you lift your knees and elbows. Carefully straighten your legs until you feel a stretch in your hips and calves. Press into the floor with your hands as you lift your pelvis towards the ceiling. Hold for a few breaths. To conclude, exhale and bend your knees and elbows slowly back down to the floor.

Functional Fitness Yoga

Pro tip: Consult with a trainer or exercise expert to develop a functional fitness routine that will work best for you.

Benefits of Functional Fitness

The benefits of functional fitness are many. This workout approach is associated with everything from reduced joint pain to better balance to increased endurance. Functional fitness can also improve posture and flexibility.

Perhaps the greatest benefit of all is confidence. Functional fitness is designed to empower you to feel and perform your best. Whether that means keeping up with your kids or staying strong while training for a marathon your quality of life will noticeably improve if you are committed to your program.

Is Functional Fitness Right for You?

The great thing about functional fitness is that it is completely customizable to each individual. The best way to create an individual plan is by booking a session with a qualified trainer who can accommodate your strengths, weaknesses, and goals in a well-rounded routine. Online videos, books, and apps can provide further guidance in developing a personalized program.

Looking for more ways to enhance your physical and mental fitness? Check out the Yoga and Mindfulness board by @tomsofmaine on Pinterest!

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Why It's Good

Functional fitness routines focus on building strength to improve your daily lifestyle. Stop running out of breath when climbing the stairs and say goodbye to soreness from doing chores by adding functional fitness to your workout regimen.