Putting Some FUN in Functional Fitness

By , SparkPeople Blogger
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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THINCPL2004 6/18/2021
Thanks for a great article Report
JAMER123 4/16/2021
Great ideas. Thanks for sharing. Report
ty Report
PLCHAPPELL 12/4/2020
Good ideas Report
MUSICNUT 8/24/2020
Thanks for the great article! :) Report
I do most of my exercises at home with DVDs/Youtube, plus resistance bands and/or hand/ankle weights. The combination cardio/strength training workouts are the best for me. I also do standing Pilates to strengthen my core. I'm 68 years old, with arthritis, but I'm in better shape than some of my younger neighbors and friends. Report
I have added dancing Report
Thank you. Report
Thanks Report
I do the same thing DEBBIEZ56! Report
Makes sense. Report
Awesome...thanks... Report
Thanks! Report
Great points Report
Thanks Report
Link is still bad Report
Great information. Report
The link doesn't go anywhere close to the story indicated. Perhaps remove it. Report
Great information! Report
Great info! Thanks! Report
Fun and functional Report
Good article! I am shocked by the number of people at the senior center I am a member of that have fallen. Many also use canes and walkers. I am terrified of falling (my mother died from a horrific fall down a big flight of stairs) so I do it all- I have a wobble board and BOSU that I keep by my tv and jump on them every time I pass. I jog on my BOSU if I haven't done my 10k steps for the day elsewhere. Report
Thank you Report
I would love to utilize a trainer, but it is very expensive. Report
Great info Report
Good information! Some of my best friends are now dependent on walking sticks to get around; I am determined to fight like mad to defer this. My program is quite rough on me, but I am hoping to get benefits. Report
Great article. And, FUNctional exercise is coming my way. Report
This is a great article and I will add functional exercise in my workout. Report
This is a great idea, that i've never really thought about before. Well other than laughing at the same concept in The Stepford Wives. I do a deep cleaning once a week but that's about the only functional exercise i can think of. I'm sure i could get some great benefits from a BOSU ball, since i work with kids, squatting down is a must. Report
I love the Firm DVD's.
Yesterday I spent painting, scraping - up and down a ladder.....is that 'fun'ctional? Whew. Report
I think my fitness yesterday was functional--- spent a couple hours stacking wood, and almost an hour digging (through roots and rocks) to help connect an outdoor wood boiler so my grandkids will be warm this winter! Report
Great article and I love the BOSU. I was using it with a trainer, I finally bought one for home. Now it just sits there. (My dog uses it to help her look out the window!!)
Got get back into it! Thanks Report
Anybody know about the 'Firm' workout DVD's? Well, that's what they are pretty much about. They have been out on the market for the last twenty years, and are one of the most effective workout tool I have used. Report
Hey! I think I have been doing this and didn't even know it! I use the pool hand "weights" throughout the aerobic portion of my water fitness classes and I have really seen a difference in my core and the toning of my arms! Plus that little bit of buoyancy helps reduce the impact to my knees!
Thanks for putting a name on it!
Ha! I am FUNctional! ;-) Report
HHhhmmmm.... I'm a natural born cluts. I have a hard time doing exercises with too many directions at once. I'll stick to yoga, swimming & kickboxing. Interesting idea, but it sounds like something that would frustrate me. Report
This is a terrific article. Is there any way to find out just what exercises are classified as FUNctional? I would really like to add them to my routine just to break up the monotony of it. I was also wondering - does bike riding fit into this category? I've noticed that whenever I ride my bike (which is usually four times a week back and forth to work), I basically get the same workout as if I did regular crunches and bicycle crunches. Report
This is a great article. Diversity is good in anyone's exercise routine. I belong to a gym and it's great, but this summer I spent a lot of time outdoors. My husband and I walk our High School track almost daily and I lift light weights (5 and 8 pounds). I have lost 8 pounds and dropped a couple of sizes. I was all free! There are so many ways to get your exercise if a gym is not affordable. We also walk around the neighborhood. We can do it!!! Report
About 10 years ago, I bought and used some tapes by Kathy Smith-Functional Fitness. When I first started using them, I could not keep up, but over time got to where I could. In the course of 18 months, I went from 191 lbs to 127 lbs. also, quit eating junk food. 127 was too low for me. Over the past 2 years I have gone from a healthy 140 to an unhealthy 168, all lack of exercise. I think I need to dig out those old tapes and get busy again. Report
Definitely something worth looking into adding to my routine. I currently do some kind of aerobic training along with weights. Report
Like several of you, I have no money for a trainer. I'm waiting for a hearing for my Social Security Disability, in the meantime my monthly income is $253.07 and if it wasn't for my sister I'd be out in the street. It is an encouraging article and I need to just work these kinds of activities into my water exercises. Report
Several times lately I have used a pushbroom to sweep our driveway and clear it of stones and pine needles. Believe me, it is a good workout since our driveway is nearly 1/4 mile long, down the hill and back up. I don't know how to record that as exercise other than to give the minutes I spend walking. But it is really an upper body exerecise. Report
i got off track, got to get back on. great article Report
This is a very helpful article! Keep 'em coming! :) Report
No trainer here - not even a gym. Report
I too do not do a full session of "FUN"ctional fitness but instead participate in a boot camp class where lots of work is done on the bosu. It was tough at first, but has definitely made me more agile and balanced. Report
I don't do a full session of functional exercise. The exercises I do already involve my core. Every now and then I use a stability ball and Bosu just to create varieties. They are the add-ons, but not my major workout. Report
BOSU is really fun. Report
I started the CORE Performance workout about a week ago to rehab from a back injury. Reading the book he talks a lot about functional fitness and staying independent as we age by staying functionally strong. He, and his proffessional-athlete-clients - also talk about how the various elements give them a very functional edge to their sports performance. It's intriguing to see how these same compound exercises support both goals.

And my back is doing great with this program as he incorporate flexibility and strength into the functional movements. Report