Functional fitness and functional exercise are the new ‘thing’ in fitness, or as I saw recently, the new ‘buzzwords’. That made me smile because once you know what it means, the question to worry about is, “why do all exercises not make us ‘functionally fit?” Well that depends what you want to be fit for.
Let’s take someone like a daily gym-goer who does “back & chest” or “legs” etc. These type of workouts do make them stronger and able to function where strength is required more effectively. It is great to be gym fit but that is not specific to building a body capable of doing most real-life activities in real-life positions. Could they run to catch a bus for instance? There are elements missing and if overlooked altogether can result in an imbalance within the body.
Similarly a specialist sportsman like my brother who recently completed an Iron Man event, became an Iron Man and earned the respect of everyone who knows him, especially me. The need to run, cycle and swim for many hours to prepare for such an extreme event can often leave no time for the most important ‘functional’ fitness to be developed – flexibility, core strength and balance which are essential for every sport and every day.
Functional exercises, explains Kimberly Watkins, a New York City-based fitness trainer and CEO of inSHAPE Fitness and inMOTION Exercise On Demand, serve to distribute blood flow to muscles, keep joints lubricated and promote pain-free movement in everyday life.
They 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.
The majority of us simply want to be fitter and to be able to manage all the physical stuff that we need to do, with ease!
Being able to endure an elevated heart rate, getting down to the ground and getting back up again and sleeping well are abilities we take for granted until we lose them!
With age our bodies naturally experience a decrease in muscle mass, bone mass, flexibility, and even balance. The role of exercise then becomes vitally important.
The most beneficial workouts should contain at least two or three of the following elements — strength, balance, endurance, agility and coordination.
This would then be described as a well-rounded functional fitness routine.
Although it would be easy to now list a number of exercises that can be performed at home and would tick the boxes for functional fitness, no one routine is suitable for everybody. Quality over quantity, is a mantra that I love but what quantity should you aim for? And the quality you achieve will depend on a number of different factors. Some can be improved, others will require adaptations possibly only in the short-term.
If you are interested in learning more about what sort of workout would suit you as an individual then please do get in touch.