Is a Functional Fitness Program for You?

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A fitness program that trains your body to easily and safely go about your daily routine: that’s functional fitness. It’s a personalized program that prepares your body for daily living by simulating movements you typically do each day.

A functional fitness routine examines your day-to-day activities and focuses on avoiding injury — throwing out your back, for example — during those activities.

The goal of functional fitness is to strengthen the muscles you use everyday in order to:

  • Reduce your risk of injury
  • Ease your daily living
  • Improve your quality of life

Workout routines that do not focus on functional fitness typically involve a circuit of leg and arm exercises with added cardio. These workouts isolate muscle groups, but don’t train your muscles to work together as they do when you perform an everyday task, like lifting a box. 

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A functional fitness routine examines your day-to-day activities and focuses on avoiding injury — throwing out your back, for example — during those activities. It conditions your body to avoid injury and more easily get through each day.

If you are a package delivery driver, for example, your day-to-day activities usually include:

  • Lifting packages
  • Getting in and out of a vehicle
  • Reaching up or around
  • Turning from the waist
  • Walking briskly to-and-from drop-off locations

You might also play basketball with your children each day. For you, a functional fitness routine will train your body to more easily and safely perform all of these motions.

Functional fitness has been a hallmark of professional sports. Trainers know a quarterback needs to work different muscles than a defensive tackle and will train each individual accordingly. More recently the concept is being applied to everyday life. Although functional fitness workout programs are unique to each individual, common areas of focus are strengthening your core and improving your balance. Instead of gym equipment, most exercises can be done at home, or anywhere, using your own body weight for resistance.

Getting Started

Review the motions you typically go through each day. Then ask a trainer to customize a functional fitness exercise program that will enhance your lifestyle.

If you have health problems, are pregnant, or haven’t exercised in awhile, it’s a good idea to check with your doctor before beginning.  

Small Steps: Get Active With Your Kids
Taking part in physical fitness with your children benefits the whole family.