Functional Fitness sounds like one of those buzz words people throw around to prove they’re in the know. However, this is a concept grounded in solid science. The medical field known as physiatry that combines physical medicine and rehabilitation is a champion of functional fitness and health. This approach to health puts an emphasis on overall quality of life over specific athletic performance. This doesn’t mean you’re discouraged from running 5Ks or playing on the office softball team. It does mean that as you get older you have to maintain a certain level of fitness to accomplish daily activities as well as more strenuous athletic activities.
A Holistic Approach – Functional Fitness and Health
The why of functional fitness could be the biggest takeaway in this article. It’s not just about strength, and muscle. It’s bar far a way to maintain your quality of life; free from pain, joint issues, trauma, falls, and even incontinence.
HOW Functional Fitness Affects Your Everyday Life.
Joint instability creates undue wear and tear on the body. Lax joints then grind away at cartilage and bones as they move in unnatural patterns. The trauma is related to surgeries that could be avoided if the joints stay healthy and balanced. Falls happen not always because you trip but because you can’t rebound. Functional fitness isn’t just about building its about how you rebound and prevent to falls. Incontinence is largely related to the muscles of the pelvic floor. Balancing exercises that train the individual to “active” their core through ab exercises, workouts, and daily life are the key to maintaining proper strength in this area.
Physiatry in particular encourages a well-rounded health and fitness program to address your particular needs. The basic elements of fitness (cardio endurance, muscular strength and endurance, flexibility and body composition) are the building blocks of a healthy lifestyle. Your particular needs based on your body’s condition and activity level determines the specifics of the program, but certain principles are generally applicable:
Cardiovascular Fitness: 20-40 minutes of sustained activity 2-3 times a week. Activities include running, biking and swimming. Also try interval training – perform shorts spurts of calisthenics such as sit-ups and jumping jacks with short periods of rest between exercises.
Muscle Strength and Imbalances: Correcting antagonistic muscle imbalances as well as attention to postural and phasic muscles such as spinal muscles and deltoids respectively. Focus on stretching postural muscles and strengthening phasic muscles.
Examples Of Functional Fitness Exercises:
- Doing each leg or arm independent from the other: This means that the strong limb can’t help and it allows the weak arm to “catch up”.
- Dumbbell Exercises
- TRX Bands
- Independent Machines – Machines that have independent weight stacks so that each leg or arm can work separate from the other.
- Balancing Exercises to increase stability, build the core, and train stabilizing muscles.
- Medicine ball exercises
- Stability Ball exercises
- Any Exercises that happen in 3 dimensional space
- Free Motion Machines
Flexibility: Stretching routine to achieve balance between antagonistic muscles such as quadriceps and hamstrings of the legs.
Nutrition and Body Composition
Healthy eating is a natural part of functional health. Proper nutrition will not only make you feel better it promotes a leaner body composition which means you will look better too. Eating healthy means choosing mostly fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins keeping fatty foods and high sugar sweets to a minimum. Your specific caloric needs are based on your activity level, age, and sex. Once you’ve tightened up your eating habits, including calorie control and you’re exercising regularly you will start to notice some changes. Disciplines like physiatry promotes changes in your body composition over a blanket admonition to “lose weight,” because you don’t want to lose hard-earned muscle because of a poor diet. Over time you will add muscle and lose fat. Your weight might not change a lot, but you will see the difference: a leaner, stronger – healthier you.