Monday Again
Early Hours

Shifting Gears . . . But Just a Little

Over the summer, I've been writing quite a few posts about the importance of strength training.  I've tried to convince y'all to include strength training in your regular workouts.  I've suggested a few workouts you can try at home, and I've described some tools and equipment you might want to have on hand to help with your strength training workouts.

Today, I'm going to shift gears a little.  Just a little.  Oh, I still think strength training is vital -- and especially as we prepare ourselves for more graceful and active aging.  But today I want to talk about . . . functional fitness.

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(Such a lovely shot . . . but . . . I notice the benefits of functional fitness most when I'm working in the garden.)

Functional fitness . . . is, basically, exercise that helps your muscles move together to improve daily living.  It's about training your body to handle the things you do every day (bending over to tie your shoe, lifting grocery bags out of the car, reaching up for something on a high shelf, pushing a wheelbarrow, lifting a child, getting out of a chair) or to prepare you to react well in unexpected life situations (getting up off the ground after a fall, preventing a trip on the stairs).

Most of us don't injure ourselves when we're just working out at the gym -- focusing on a specific muscle group or working in a more controlled environment.  Nope . . . we injure ourselves when we're doing everyday things  . . . working in the garden or shoveling snow or moving furniture or painting the ceiling.  We twist in the wrong way or we trip over a hose or we miss a step or we lift with our back instead of our legs.

Functional fitness exercises can help make everyday movement easier. . . by mirroring the things we do in our daily activities.  These kinds of exercises work multiple muscle groups at the same time, and get you crossing planes (side to side or front to back movement) and working on different levels -- just like you do in everyday activities.

Most fitness classes at the gym incorporate functional fitness work.  Trainers, too, emphasize functional fitness exercises.  Here are several exercises you can do at home as part of your workout.  (Here's another workout, in case you're looking for even more ideas.)  (And here's a list of 7 functional exercises to do every day from SilverSneakers -- the folks who specialize in fitness for the senior set.)

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Functional fitness makes living an "everyday life" easier.  We can work more efficiently with less effort -- AND with less likelihood of injury -- when we prep our bodies to do the work!

So.  What do you think?  Do you incorporate functional fitness exercises into your workouts?

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Be sure to visit Bonny today for our first Read With Us post about this quarter's book, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption.  I hope you'll read along with us and join the discussion next month!

Comments

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Bonny

Thanks for the post that has finally convinced me! I've been doing some strength training (in a half-assed way if I'm honest) but having seen a lack of functional fitness in my father and MiL first hand, I know I need this. I'm off to do the Silver Sneakers exercises (and hopefully make them a habit).

Vicki

I know I need to be more deliberate about it, but what comes to my mind right now is that functioning IS my workout! I have average multiple workouts every week with my team: Junah, Ginny, and Malina! Bend and stretch, lots of squats and lifts (sometimes with weights, aka aforementioned kids), walks in the woods or to the playground or skate park!! Haha.

All fun aside, I am still reminded a few times every day, to some extent, about a fall I took 13 months ago, and though not in the BEST shape, I was in OKAY shape (thanks to my ^^ team)... and I can't imagine if I'd been in no shape at all.

Grandkids are an excellent motivator... especially if you want to participate!

Carole

You know who is very good at functional fitness? Dale! And I try to be mindful of it at work, reaching for books, carrying them instead of putting them on a book truck, etc. Plus lifting Jackie!!!

Patty

Take the stairs, carry the heavy grocery bags, drag things around a manufacturing floor (rather than finding a guy)...trying to keep things moving!

Kat

This! Yes, this is absolutely so important and I love that The Balanced Life talks about this in almost every work out - how vital it is for all the different muscle groups to be working and working together for a healthier and moving you!

(and Vicki is so right... grandchildren are the greatest motivator on earth!)

Sarah

I don't know that I'm formally doing it as part of a workout, but I try to lift and carry and move things whenever possible (in other words, never taking the easy way out). I suppose it would be a good idea to be more intentional about it, though, and for that I thank you for the links!

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