Functional fitness helps your body to do the things it normally does more efficiently. Functional fitness uses compound exercises and other types of movements that approximate motions you make day-to-day. These exercises also strengthen the muscles you use with activities of daily living. Read on to learn more about functional fitness and how it can help you.
Why functional fitness?
Functional fitness exercises offer benefits that together can prolong independence and improve quality of life. For example, these exercises improve posture, balance, stability, and coordination. Do them regularly so daily tasks such as carrying groceries, reaching, lifting and climbing stairs feel accessible in your body.
How often should I do functional fitness exercises?
Aim for at least twice weekly. Three times weekly is ideal. In just a few weeks you will notice changes in your body. More importantly, you’ll reduce your risk of back or slip and fall injuries.
Functional fitness is for everyone
Preserving and extending your range of motion, strength, stamina, balance, and coordination is important at every age. You don’t necessarily need any special equipment and, even if you are a beginner, these moves are manageable.
Some moves to try…and why
Why: Squats makes it easier to do many common things like sit in a chair and return to standing or bend to pick up items on lower shelves in your garage or the grocery store.
How: Stand with feet wider than hip-width distance apart and feet parallel. Drop your hips as if preparing to sit in a chair. Keep your heels on the floor and your thighs parallel to the floor. Be sure not to let your knees extend beyond your toes and avoid tilting your torso forward. Return to standing and repeat 8 to 10 times.
Lunges: Lunges help with activities like climbing stairs and walking.
How: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and hands-on-hips. Step forward with your right foot and bend your knee to a 90-degree angle (keep your knee in front of, rather than past, your toes). Press into your right foot and bring it back to meet your left foot. Repeat with the left foot. Continue alternating both feet for ten lunges on each side.
Planks: Planks are a total body workout. One of the biggest ways they contribute to functional fitness is by strengthening the core (think abs and back). This is important because it supports balance and reduces the risk of a back injury.
How: Lie face down on your mat with palms flat at your sides. Curl your toes under and push yourself up so that you are supported by your palms and toes. Keep your spine straight and your gaze forward. Your body should form a straight line – plank – from your head to your heels.
Functional fitness exercises can improve the quality of life and make everyday tasks easier. You can also practice sitting and standing several times in succession, taking the stairs or bending to pick up a jug of water in each hand. Move slowly and deliberately through each motion and watch your fitness level improve.