When it comes to working out, we all have different reasons for hitting the gym or lacing up our running shoes. Some of us exercise for aesthetic reasons, while others do it to improve our health and quality of life. If you fall into the latter category, you may be interested in functional fitness.
At its core, functional fitness is all about movements that improve our ability to perform real-life activities. This includes exercises that mimic the way we move in our daily lives, such as squatting, reaching, and lifting. In other words, functional fitness aims to improve your overall strength, balance, and flexibility in a way that translates to your daily activities.
Why We Need to Be Functionally Fit
So, why is functional fitness so significant in our daily lives? Our bodies are designed to work as a whole system, rather than a collection of individual parts. When we focus on improving the way our bodies move as a whole, we improve our overall mobility, balance, and coordination. This can lead to a myriad of benefits, such as reducing chronic injuries and alleviating body pain.
One significant element that sets functional fitness apart from traditional workouts is the focus on movement patterns and compound exercises. Instead of isolating individual muscle groups, functional fitness movements engage multiple muscle groups to work together in coordination. This approach helps to avoid muscle imbalances, which can lead to injuries or other issues.
The Science Behind Functional Fitness
Studies have shown that functional fitness can have numerous long-term health benefits for individuals of all ages. One study published in the Journal of Aging Research found that functional fitness was particularly effective in improving balance and coordination in older adults. Another study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that functional fitness exercises improved strength, power, and speed in healthy adults.
Still need more evidence? Then check out these four additional studies.
- A study published in the Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences found that functional fitness training improved mobility and reduced the risk of falls in older adults.
- A review of studies published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that functional fitness training improved muscular strength, endurance, and power in healthy adults.
- Another study published in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science found that functional fitness training reduced lower back pain and improved spinal mobility in working adults.
- A study published in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness found that functional fitness training improved agility and balance in young adults.
An Enhanced Quality of Life
In addition to reducing injuries and improving balance and coordination, functional fitness exercises also help to improve flexibility, mobility, and overall body strength. This can translate to an improved ability to perform daily activities, such as carrying groceries or playing with your kids or grandkids.
So, if you're used to traditional workouts that rely on machines and isolated muscle group exercises, it's important to note that those may not be sufficient for everyone. Functional fitness fills the gap by focusing on movement patterns that mimic real-life movements while engaging multiple muscle groups simultaneously.
Get with a Pro
To get started with functional fitness, consider hiring a personal trainer at Eclipse 1-on-1 who can help you create a tailored workout plan that works for you. They can show you proper form and technique, ensuring that you're engaging the appropriate muscle groups.
If you prefer to try functional fitness at home, start with bodyweight exercises such as squats, lunges, and push-ups. Gradually add weights or resistance bands as you build strength and confidence.
Overall, functional fitness is a valuable approach to exercise for those seeking to improve their quality of life. By focusing on movements that mimic real-life activities, engaging multiple muscle groups, and improving mobility, flexibility, and strength, functional fitness can help you perform daily activities with ease and reduce the risk of injury.