If you have been to any gym lately and listened to all the chitchat amongst trainers and their clients or picked up any fitness magazine, you may have heard or read the new buzz phrase floating around these days called functional exercise...AKA functional fitness.
So what exactly is functional fitness and how can you benefit from these activities?
Functional fitness activities are usually compound exercises (doing multiple exercises at the same time) that mimic the types of activities we do on a day in and day out basis, such as squatting down to weed your garden, reaching overhead to grab a canned good out of the pantry, picking up your child, and even participating in your favorite sport such as tennis or golf.
These exercises not only help us build muscle strength, but they also allow for better muscle stability, agility, flexibility, and balance. Studies have shown that when these exercises are added to sport specific training, such as running, cycling, golf, etc the rate of injury is much less common in those individuals/athletes who perform these task versus those who strength train the old fashion way.
The older we get the more important these exercises play in our overall daily living. It has been reported that after age 65, falls are the leading cause of death due to injury. While there are many different reasons for one falling, having good fundamental balance, strength, agility, and flexibility, may help prevent falling in the first place.
Since these functional exercises are quite elaborate and are generally compound in nature, such as standing on a BOSU doing squats while doing bicep curls, you may want to consider hiring a personal trainer for a couple of sessions to help take you through the many intricate steps involved. Having someone guide you through the proper form is crucial to getting the most benefit out of these workouts.
Some of the new equipment that you may have noticed in your gym that help us function better include the stability ball, wobble board, and BOSU trainer all which help not only with our stability, but with our balance as well.
Even with functional fitness there is still a need for a good strength training workout as well as core exercises and flexibility activities such as yoga and pilates. And don't forget your cardio. Just consider adding some FUNctional exercises to your current routine and you should be well on your way to better health.
Do you currently do any functional activities? If so, do you find they help with your daily activities? If you do not currently do functional exercises, is this one area you would consider looking into?
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