Along with a certain amount of cardio, strength and flexibility training each week, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends practicing functional fitness training for a range of 20 to 30 minutes, two to three times a week. Functional fitness — which is also called neuromotor exercise, self-limiting exercise and movement-focused exercise — can enhance your ability to carry out everyday movements.
What Is Functional Fitness?
While functional fitness is very important, the fitness industry did not put as much focus on it until recently, so it’s not as much of a household term as the other types of training. This area focuses on exercises that help your overall physical function. It includes movements that incorporate motor skills, exercises that focus on weak or injured parts of your body, and other activities. This type of exercise often targets your balance, coordination, agility, gait, endurance, force and power. The goal is to help your body function better when you’re lifting, reaching, bending, walking and carrying out other movement-based activities that are normal to daily life.
Benefits of Functional Exercise
Performing functional activities can help your body in amazing ways, improving its general movement functions. This type of exercise helps you move better on the whole, which can help you feel better and experience less pain. This improved movement often translates into increased muscle mass, reduced fat and improved flexibility and aerobic performance. It can also help counteract the problems caused by a sedentary lifestyle, which often interfere with proper movement and the ability to exercise correctly. So if you experience pain or difficulty with certain exercises, functional activities can provide the balance of physical therapy and exercise to help you move forward with your fitness goals and be healthier in general.
Functional exercise greatly helps any age group, yet it is especially effective and popular for older adults. This is because it can counteract some of the natural body decline and changes that happen over time, such as stiffness and reduced muscle strength, and can help prevent falls. Because of these benefits, you will notice it in more exercise classes offered by gyms for this population.
How to Include More Functional Exercise In Your Routine
Now you might be wondering how you can incorporate this type of training with your other routines. The answer is that you might already be performing functional movements with your other exercises, but if not, it’s pretty easy to include. Many gym classes are incorporating it into routines for their general population and older adults.
A range of movements fall under this exercise category, including bear crawls, squats, fitness ball exercises, multidirectional lunges and stretches with a resistance band. Functional exercises generally include more than one part of your body at one time, and they often incorporate tools such as fitness balls, medicine balls, yoga blocks, foam rollers, resistance bands, yoga straps and more. Also, certain activities that include balance, movement and other functional components, such as tai chi, Pilates and yoga, can provide the results you’re after.
Functional fitness is a beneficial component to bring into your exercise routine. It can improve your body and your fitness results.