Functional Fitness Trains Your Body for the Rigors of Everyday Life
It takes a lot of strength and endurance to get through your day. The older we get, the harder it is to perform everyday tasks like carrying heavy objects, playing with your kids and doing yard work. Even sitting at your desk for eight hours a day can make you feel like you’ve been hit by a truck.
Enter functional fitness: a practical fitness model that strengthens your body for everyday life. If it’s been harder than usual to get through everyday tasks, this program is a great way to meet your goals. Use it as a stepping-off point to get ready for a more rigorous program—or if you’re not a fitness fiend, stick with functional fitness to keep up with your daily trials.
Ready to face whatever physical challenge the world throws at you? Read on to explore the world of functional fitness.
Build the strength to get through the day
Functional fitness training focuses on training certain groups of muscles together, in a way that simulates or supports everyday tasks. For example, you might do squats, which will help you carry heavy objects (like children, textbooks and groceries) in a safer manner. Building core strength can make it easier to maintain good posture while sitting at a desk or standing behind a counter. In short, you’ll perform similar movements as you would in your everyday routine, with the goal of strengthening the muscles.
This type of fitness program uses a variety of methodologies: bodyweight exercises, cardio, weight lifting and resistance exercises can all train those muscle groups to work together better. The best part about functional fitness is that it can be done just about anywhere. Perform the exercises at home, the gym or a park—wherever you’re most comfortable and have the equipment. There are even functional fitness classes that you can join.
However, functional fitness isn’t just limited to classes or exercises that bear the name. Yoga and tai chi are both excellent for the same purpose. The bodyweight and resistance exercises are good for strengthening muscle groups—plus, you’ll feel more relaxed than ever. Most sources recommend starting with bodyweight exercises, then adding weights, resistance bands or other equipment as you shape up.
Benefits of functional fitness
- Greater strength. Strengthening your muscles is what helps you lug a sack of groceries up three flights of stairs without breaking a sweat—but it will also help improve your posture, burn more calories and get through your household chores without feeling like you need a nap.
- Better mobility and flexibility. As we age, our mobility and flexibility can be severely reduced, especially if you’ve spent the last year and a half in varying stages of quarantine and lockdown. If you’re groaning every time you stand up or get out of bed, that’s a sure sign it’s time to rebuild the muscle tone and flexibility you’ve lost.
- Improve your balance. You might be decades away from a residency at Shady Pines, but improving your balance is always helpful. Notice how many times you stumble when picking things up or if you’re prone to tripping over your own feet. That’s a good indicator that you can use some balance training. Bonus: you’ll be the envy of the retirement home when you can carry a cocktail without spilling a drop.
- Results you’ll notice right away. Fitness programs can be frustrating when you work out constantly, but the image in the mirror never seems to change. One of the best parts about functional fitness is the focus on strength and mobility. You’ll notice those results right away—soon, your everyday life will be a lot easier to navigate. Never struggle to put your suitcase in an overhead compartment, ever again.
A practical workout program
If you’re ready to get started with functional fitness, there are plenty of guides online. These top 10 bodyweight exercises are a good place to start. Most are completely achievable for beginners (with the exception of pull-ups, perhaps). Consider adding yoga classes or videos, and make sure that you include a cardio component. You don’t need to jump right into high intensity training to get results—but as you train your body, you might find yourself craving a new challenge.
When you’ve been struggling to find motivation for workouts, functional fitness just might be the answer. Get practical, fast results that you’ll enjoy all day, every day—and stay healthier in the process.