Functional fitness has become a hit among athletes and the general population alike. This new buzzword is making some confused as to what this actually means; after all, doesn’t all exercising serve a certain functional purpose?
The shift towards functional-centered training has its origins in physical therapies. Physical therapies are designed to improve movement and functionality in people whose mobility is compromised by injury or illness.
These exercises are designed to mimic movements patients did in their everyday lives to help them recover. Functional fitness similarly aims to improve our everyday functioning.
Depending on the nature of your work and daily life, you can find exercises that help improve your mobility and reduce the chances of injury. Also, if you suffer from certain illnesses, you can get pass any obstacles with the help of therapeutic exercises.
Watch this video: Functional Fitness: Learn Fitness Functional Exercises
If you want to learn more about functional fitness take a look at these tips:
Core body strength
Functional fitness exercises aim to train your muscles so they work together and simulate movements you do every day. Functional training helps improve core body strength by exercising the upper and lower body simultaneously. A good example of this is squats which work a wide array of muscles.
This exercise also mimics common movements we do every day like picking up things, standing up from a chair, etc. Squats are considered the king of all exercises and for good reasons also.
Squats work the lower body but they also help build muscle and make them work more efficiently. Squats also increase mobility and balance and improve overall strength – which is why they’re an essential part of most functional fitness routines.
Prepare for workout
Warm-up exercises are crucial in proper functional training. Before any kind of exercising, you need to address muscle tightness and joint stiffness. Most of us work in routine jobs where our mobility is severely restricted or we have to follow repetitive movements.
After long hours sitting at the desk, a lot of your muscles are contracted. To avoid unnecessary strains and to prepare your muscles and joints for a full workout, start with warm up exercises that relax the spine, shoulder and hip areas. Also, move your arms and legs in circular motions to get your joints and muscles moving.
Training for autoimmune diseases
Functional training is perfect for those whose mobility is compromised by diseases like lupus, arthritis, and fibromyalgia. Traditional techniques were adopted in to help develop exercising programs for those in need of addressing specific health issues.
Tai Chi, water aerobics, and chair yoga can offer great benefits to those who want to improve their flexibility in arthritis and find joint pain relief. One study on 2562 participants, found that therapeutic exercising provided significant joint pain relief in osteoarthritis sufferers. The functionality of the affected joint was also significantly improved in these participants due to these therapeutic exercises.
Yoga for Functionality
Yoga postures can be a great way to improve overall mobility and functionality. In one study on 52 patients with breast cancer, scientists observed whether aerobic and yoga exercising improved their functionality and muscle strength. Only 30 minutes of yoga or aerobics, three times a week improved the patient’s functionality and decreased fatigue.
Another benefit to yoga is its psychological side. Yoga practices increase mindfulness which makes us more aware of our lifestyle habits. Yoga isn’t a fat burning practice but there are benefits of yoga for quick weight loss in the sense that it will increase your mindfulness and mindfulness helps you keep track of your dietary habits which might help in weight loss.
If you are a beginner, it is usually recommended to only use your body weight for resistance training. Don’t be harsh on yourself if you don’t have any experience with exercising, start with baby steps.
Once you’ve build some strength and resistance, you can start including weights into your workout routine. Beginners should start with exercises that involve a combination of resistance and flexibility. Good examples are tai-chi and Pilates. Other examples of exercises that involve several joints and muscles are lunges and standing biceps curls – all suitable for functional fitness.
Functional training is complex
The core idea behind functional fitness is to do most exercises in a standing position and that these exercises should involve multiple joints in your body. However, Michael Boyle, an expert in functional training, claims that functional training should involve different exercises for different functions. For example, some muscle and joint groups are meant to offer the body stability, while others are responsible for mobility.
The part that offers body stability is abdominal muscles, the hips and shoulder blade stabilizers. He further explains that for the functionality of the ankle, hip and knee is greater when the hip shows greater stability.
To increase the stability of these areas we sometimes have to perform exercises that isolate certain muscles. While functional training means exercising multiple muscles at once, to build good stability we sometimes have to train specific muscles alone.
Functional fitness is a broad term that simply means exercises that improve your daily functioning. If you’re a professional athlete, this would involve a training program that improves your sports performance.
But if you’re an average Joe, this would be exercises that make you more flexible and agile in your day-to-day life. Functional fitness also helps in improving function after diseases and injury. The core of functional exercising is to move multiple muscles and joints at once and to build core strength.
About the Author
Katleen Brown is a health, beauty and fitness writer. She loves to publish her articles on various health related websites. In her spare time, likes to do research to bring awareness. Recognizing the unity of body, mind, and outlook, she helps empower women to tune into their innate & inner wisdom to transform their health and truly flourish. Get in touch with her on Google+, Pinterest and Twitter.