What is Functional Fitness?

Carry all the Groceries: Super Functional!

Have you ever played the game “how few trips can I make from my car to my refrigerator” when bringing home the groceries?

Or, have you ever tried to see how long you can carry your child(ren) before having to put them down and take a rest?

Maybe you intentionally park at the back of the parking lot so you can get some more walking in for that day, too?

What we’re aiming for is functional movement. We define it in plain terms as “the ability to perform daily tasks without limitation or undue struggle.” In other words: it shouldn’t hurt, it shouldn’t be unnaturally difficult, and it shouldn’t prevent you from occupying your role in society or cause burden to others.

We also want to consider the body’s natural capabilities:
When’s the last time you reached straight over head? When’s the last time you sat in the bottom of a squat?

The old adage if you don’t use it, you lose it has more truth to it when we really sit down to ponder: when the last time we did X or Y? Can you think of the last time you threw a ball? Jumped (down the stairs, onto a curb, or just…jumped!). When’s the last time you tried a new sport or movement? When’s the last time you played with your kids and took an active role?

We’re definitely not here to put you on notice! Let’s just be aware of our everyday and how it may affect our now and future selves. There’s nothing wrong with how you’ve answered any of these. But the real question is: what can we do about it?! Should we/need we do anything at all?

When’s the last time you just laid on your back and stared up at the sky?

One of the hardest realizations to come to as an adult is: I don’t play anymore.
And I’m not talking about the last time you went out on the golf course with the boss, or pretend to be a pool shark with some buddies at your local pub. I’m not talking about grabbing the XBox controller with your teenager… Creative play is a part of human nature, and if we’re not cherishing it… well, where does it go?

(OK, so play doesn’t have to be organized or competitive, but doesn’t this look fun?)

So, what is Functional Fitness?

  • full range movements
  • picking things up
  • ease and efficiency
  • switching things up
  • slow pace moving
  • carrying things
  • injury prevention
  • building resilience
  • full effort movement
  • putting things down
  • making it fun
  • getting comfortable
    being uncomfortable

First of all, we want to be functional humans. And ultimately, what we mean by that is:
the ability to live our lives relatively unencumbered by ailment, disorder, or circumstance that prevents us from our daily pursuits.

How often do we read about unfortunate incidents involving inclement weather and individuals who are injured because of slips, falls, or compromised movement? Even though we can’t prevent all accidents, we can certainly build the resilience necessary to minimize damage from slips, falls, and spills, while hedging our bets that we can be more stable!

Other examples of functional living and their correlated functional fitness:

  • Navigating Stairs
  • Reaching Overhead
  • Crossing a small stream or rain gutter
Fitness Correlate:
Overhead walking lunges
  • Getting out of bed, or off the couch
  • Getting onto and off the the toilet
Fitness Correlate: Squats!
  • Picking up from or placing an item on the floor
  • Tying your shoes when there isn’t a place to sit
  • Pulling weeds from your garden
Thanks Sean Woodland and Talking Elite Fitness
“Bout Dem Roots!” How do you pull weeds?
Fitness Correlate: Deadlift
  • Mowing the grass
  • Pushing a shopping cart or stroller
  • Opening a heavy door
Ignore the crocs!
Fitness Correlate: Sled push!
  • Leisure-time!
  • Spending time at the beach (swimming, beach volleyball?)
  • Playing with the kiddos!

Resistance training increases bone density.
Plyometrics (specifically jumping), increases spongy plates between bone-on-bone interfaces.
Strength training increases muscle mass and the integrity of tendons and ligaments.
Training agility means quicker reaction times.

And a well-implemented training plan should include all of these!

Next time, we’re going to talk about GPP (General Physical Preparedness), what the 10 principles of GPP are and how they relate to a healthy+fit lifestyle.

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