Do you always seem to get hurt when trying to exercise? If so, this article is for you.
Have you ever strained your back lifting a heavy object or found it difficult to lift objects over your head? Do you tire easy doing yard work or home repairs? Incorporating functional exercise into your life may help with all of this and more.
Body builders literally work to build and shape muscle to achieve a desired look. Power lifters train to reach new goals in how much they can lift, and athletes train to perform well at their sport. For majority of us though, these are not our goals.
Most of us want to be fit and healthy, but above all we want a high quality of life and ease in performing daily tasks.
Functional fitness is when groups of muscles work together as in a compound movement.
These exercises stimulate the body in a similar way to real life daily tasks. The Mayo Clinic www.mayoclinic.org states, that functional fitness is multi-joint, multi-muscle exercises that when performed correctly make everyday activities easier, reduce the chances of injury, improve balance, increases muscle strength, and decreases the chance of falls.
Here are 3 examples:
- Squat- The squat movement, when done properly, teaches your body how to lift heavy objects without putting strain on your back. Multiple leg and glute muscles work together and share the work. This functional exercise can also aid in simple tasks such as standing up from a seated position. If new to this exercise start by using a chair or bands around a pole to allow you to sit back properly. Once ready you can move to an air squat (just you squatting in air). If advanced add weights.
- Push Up- This functional exercise uses both the arms and the chest. These muscle groups work together to train and strengthen the body to push. Pushing a lawn mower or shopping cart will become easier when these muscles learn to work together. Start off basic, by performing a chest to wall push up in an upright position against a wall. Once you have built enough strength you can perform a traditional push up from the ground. Advance to negative pushups by allowing your chest to drop below your hands by elevating your body.
- Lunge- Lunging forward with one leg while the other knee drops down is a functional move that helps one kneel down for gardening, cleaning a spill, or look under the bed. This exercise also increases balance reducing the chance of falls. A lunge can be performed by holding a stable object, traditionally by using your own stabilizing muscle to balance or advance up to jumping lunges.
Consumer reports provides a diagram with detailed descriptions of five functional exercises:
A great advantage of functional exercise is that it can be performed by just about everyone.
These exercises are great for kids because they use your own body weight and also for older individuals who can definitely benefit from the gains in stability and flexibility. Those new to exercise can modify these movements by using a wall or a chair to get started, and advanced individuals can combine upper and lower body movements while adding resistance through weights.
You should always check with a doctor before starting a new exercise program. Once you are given the approval, it is best if you can work with a trainer until these movements are mastered as proper form is essential to gain the most benefit and decrease the chance of injury. If a trainer is not feasible for you, look up proper technique and follow the specific instructions and body alignment.
Our bodies were created by God for work. All of our muscles, joints, tendons, and bones were designed to work together in a perfect synergy. God desires that we live life and live it abundantly. Give yourself a high quality of life by empowering your physical body by adding in functional exercises.
“From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” –Ephesians 4:16