Fitness Articles

FUNctional Fitness

We All Want Fitness to Be More Fun!

535SHARES
What fun is being laid up with a stiff or bad back? What good is a perfect body if you are feeling less than perfect?

As far as your back is concerned, more fun comes from more functional fitness. The simplest, easiest, most basic moves are usually the most important gift you can give your body every day. These exercises are common sense, preventative movements that when done on a daily basis will keep you tuned up so you don’t miss out on one minute of fun!

What’s Functional Fitness?
  • Functional fitness strives to work major muscle groups in their full range of motion to promote everyday ease of movement.
  • Functional fitness is quality of life movement.
  • Functional fitness gives you the ability to move at ease and perform everyday activities and tasks, pain free.
Bye, Bye Back Pain 
This sample series provides flexion, rotation and extension of the spine. 

Still in the Sack
  1. One Knee Hug (lying on back – hug one knee into chest – feel stretch in lower back – other leg can be bent at knee or extended.) Breathe. Switch legs.
  2. Both Knees Hug (same as above – hug both knees into chest – feel stretch in lower back – breathe into the stretch – feeling your spine lengthening with each breath.)
While You Are Watching the Morning Show
  1. Hip Rolls (from above, drop feet on floor – knees bent – arms out to the side in a T position – shoulder level – palms up – allow your legs – knees together to roll to the ride side – and attempt to kept your left shoulder on the floor – breathe into the torso stretch – pull your abdominals in and bring your knees back to center and roll them to the other side.)
  2. Pelvic Lift (lying on back – knees bent – feet shoulder width apart – arms by your side – lift your hips up into the air – keep weight centered in your whole foot – and slowly roll yourself down –starting from your mid back, lower back and then rear end. Articulate the spine as though it were a ‘string of pearls’ – make sure your knees stay still during the movement – they have a tendency to roll open during the lowering.) Breathe
  3. Elbow Prop-Up (roll over onto your belly – prop yourself up on your elbows – legs extended together behind you – visualize lifting your chest – pull in your abs and feel your spine naturally extend – drop your shoulders and breathe.)
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About The Author

Mare Petras Mare Petras
A speaker, author, and spokesperson, Mare Petras, is a fitness expert with more than 25 years of experience. Her book, Fitness Simply, reflects her fitness philosophy: "Enjoy your life; enjoy your body, every minute, every day."

Member Comments

  • great idea and article, done, thanks - 2/20/2014 12:44:01 PM
  • Thanks. I will do theses when my back start to hurt again. - 9/28/2013 2:21:25 PM
  • I also would like more moves that we could do while still in bed. - 3/23/2013 7:23:46 AM
  • -BENI-
    My mother had two back operations 38 years ago. She has always done the one knee and both knee hugs and a few others for those 38 years. Whether they traveled, stayed at friends or in hotels she has always done them. She still does them to this day. My mother who is 78 can sit in a chair and bring her knees past her ears!! She is that flexible, and says she has no back pain at all.
    She noticed with age she has had balance issues, so she started a while ago holding onto the counter standing on one foot. She now can stand in the middle of a room on one leg and doesn't wobble!! Though we highly suggest she not do that very often!!
    Why haven't I learned to do any of this by now?!!!!
    Ugh!!
    Thank you for the reminder! Habit Habit Habit!!! - 1/5/2013 9:46:24 AM
  • I didn't get that "from above" line either. I get the knee hugging move and the slowly lowering your hips thing, referring to the spine as a "string of pearls"... that image helped. I'm sure a little video would have made all the difference. Having someone else proof read the article would have helped too because spell check would have said it was A-Okay! It just makes me appreciate Coach Nicole's articles and videos even more. - 5/10/2012 9:41:10 AM
  • I'll have to agree with others, #3 can be very bad if you have back problems. A good yoga instructor will always caution newbies to do this move with great care. I don't have any fusions, but this move is deadly for my back. - 1/30/2012 6:11:04 PM
  • I used to work out regularly (and strenously) on the machines, classes, etc., but as I aged these got to be too much for me. Now, at 70, I participate in what my gym calls "Silver Slippers" classes and Tai Chi. Both work at developing strong cores, flexibility and balance. Both of these could be called "Functional Fitness" classes for seniors. My core strength, flexibility and balance, as well as energy level and mobility, have all improved tremendously since starting these classes. Such classes are ideal for seniors. - 1/30/2012 4:31:08 PM
  • RAKAHNG
    In the article "Bye bye to back pain," the second section "While watching the morning show" is written in such poor English that it does not make sense.
    Firstly, it does not make it clear what position one should be in at the start of the exercise. I assumed it was a sitting position, but then the instructions don't make sense. Then there are a few grammatical errors English such as "the ride side" which make difficult to get the exercise instructions correct. - 4/10/2011 10:48:49 PM
  • These are all wonderful stretches. If my back starts bothering me, I start doing these at least twice a day and soon I'm back to feeling great again. - 4/10/2011 5:15:19 PM
  • WORDWEAVER99
    The descriptions may not be as vivid as one would like, but the concept is the important thing. One critical bit of information is missing, in my opinion:
    Thirty years ago an orthopedist told me to always do these stretching exercises the first thing in the morning BEFORE getting out of bed, because the muscles were warm and could be gently stretched without causing damage.

    He felt doing these daily would help a bipedal human not designed to walk on two legs avoid back problems. I rarely miss a day. - 4/10/2011 12:17:56 PM
  • #3 can be dangerous if you have a fusion. Please check with a doctor before doing this exercise if you are fused. - 4/10/2011 11:19:46 AM
  • PATCHSLS
    Great exeriises for the lower back -- all these were given to me by my physical therapist when my back was spasming. - 4/10/2011 10:33:16 AM
  • I have just gone through physical therapy for disc problems in my back and hip bursitis. The exercises you show here are some of the exact same ones my physical therapist had me do. If I skip a day doing these, I start having pain again. The PT told me they can be done in the bed if you have trouble getting down on the floor. - 4/10/2011 10:20:11 AM
  • BABYBAL
    These are all yoga postures. I have been doing Yoga for 40 years...one of the most important things about Yoga is the breath, and breathing into the postures. This makes a tremendous difference. (Inhale, exhale..conscious
    ly..inhale on the up moves exhale on the down, or inhale as you close in, exhale as you move out)

    I would recommend a Yoga Class with a GOOD yoga instructor. Or, a very good Yoga tape..that you watch the first time through before even trying the postures. Then trying it gently at first. Even with Yoga, you can injure yourself, if you do something in an extreme way..or something that pushes you too much..or especially, if you have an injury..proceed with caution.

    However, Yoga is one of the most healing things you can ever do for your body. And, if done consistently, using an entire progression of postures..it can really tone the body. - 4/10/2011 10:19:16 AM


  • Paying devil's advocate here, but should we really be encouraging flexion, extension and rotation of the lumbar spine-- especially in the presence of back pain? In fact, logic would suggest streching the hips while training co-contraction of the muscles surrounding the spine to stabilize during movement.

    The above drills may work for some, but I would always be iffy about perscribing this stuff without knowing who we are dealing with. - 4/10/2011 10:04:01 AM
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