THE BENEFITS OF Functional Fitness
What is Functional Fitness?
You may have heard this phrase used frequently over the last couple of decades and wondered what it means. The simple answer is – Functional Fitness is fitness activities which are designed to facilitate the movements we perform during everyday life.
What does this mean and why is it important?
When we think back in time, humans evolved by performing various movements to survive. Running, jumping, swimming, climbing, fighting, carrying, pushing, and pulling to name a few. We hunted by running after our prey, we climbed trees to forage for food, we carried, we dug, we built, and we raised our children by carrying them around. We didn’t have chairs, shoes, wheels, cars and computers so our bodies developed to exist without them and were much more physically capable as a result. If we evolved to move in these ways, our bodies will function optimally if we continue to move like this. Today we still perform many of these movements in everyday life.
To perform these movements safely, it is important to maintain and develop the muscles, bones and connective tissues associated with these movement patterns. Not to mention the neuromuscular and cardiovascular elements of connecting the lungs, heart, brain and nervous system to the body. As we age, especially if we do not engage in regular exercise, we lose muscle mass, cardiorespiratory capacity, strength, coordination, and mobility which could eventually lead to an injury. How many people do you know who have a “bad back”?
Functional fitness is a huge range of different movement types, patterns, styles, and intensities which have one thing in common: at their root is the goal of facilitating these basic movement patterns which translate directly into normal life. Functional fitness is not endlessly running on a treadmill or exhaustively doing push-ups or bicep curls. None of which, in isolation, are very useful at all. Many movements if done in isolation to excess can make our bodies less functional overall. It is extremely good to widely vary the types of movements we do.
Examples of Functional Fitness movements:
- Squatting is an analogue for sitting down and standing up
- Box step-ups for climbing stairs
- Running (as well as many other kinds of cardiovascular exercise to improve overall fitness and energy levels)
- Stretching (or Yoga) to improve mobility
- Weight training to improve muscle mass and function
- Compound movements such as deadlifts or moving objects (such as dumbbells or balls) from the ground to overhead
- Bodyweight movements and gymnastics to emulate more complex movement patterns which improve motor function, balance and coordination
All of which help keep our movements safe, agile, stable and strong as we go through life.
Is functional fitness good for me?
Functional Fitness is helpful for all ages, abilities and desired outcomes. It is simply a matter of finding the scale and specific types which are best for you. Professional athletes use functional fitness with an emphasis on their speciality. For example, sprinters will perform explosive strength movements such as jumping or strength training for their legs. People recovering from injuries or surgeries might focus on rehabilitation movements in the affected areas designed to help them get back to normal body function, such as walking. Many people today desire a change in body composition, for example reducing body fat and/or increasing muscle mass, this can easily be achieved using functional strength and cardiovascular movements combined with sensible nutrition. The same is true for increasing energy levels and even reducing the effects of stress. The body and brain can produce powerful chemicals such as dopamine and endorphins which are released during exercise and have a profound effect on mood, sleep, and stress, to name a few.
Functional Fitness with adequate rest and nutrition is an excellent recipe for success for everyone with a desire to improve their overall health and wellbeing. It is simply a matter of understanding your desired goals and altering your routine to accommodate a few hours per week for a training routine. If you are unsure where to start, our fitness instructors can design and deliver a training program just for you to incorporate into your everyday life which will help you achieve your fitness goals and teach you all the relevant movements.
Our Personal Fitness Training programs are available online as one-to-one sessions or if you are looking for a wellness retreat consider Basic Optimal Fitness or Comprehensive Optimal Fitness wellness program available at Kamalaya Koh Samui.
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