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How’s your functional fitness?

Toni-Ann DiSantis

How’s your functional fitness? Find out what’s behind the buzzword.

The fitness industry has seen some interesting trends over the years, from the vibrating belt machines of the 1960s to the more-recent “fitness pole dancing.” The latest buzzword in fitness is more of an anti-trend: functional fitness. Unlike workouts designed to achieve bodybuilder–style muscles or a “bikini body,” functional fitness involves working out in a way that supports the activities of daily living and overall health.  Whether you want to play pick-up basketball or soccer, chase kids or grandkids around the park, walk up stairs with ease, get in and out of the tub easily, or just stay out of a nursing home, incorporating functional fitness exercises can help you get there.  If you have a fitness routine, you may already do these moves: squats, dead lifts, chest presses, and other exercises that involve multiple joints, including full-body exercises like holding an exercise ball over your head and slamming it down, are functional. But you don’t have to ditch your biceps curls, leg extensions, or other “nonfunctional” exercises.   If you enjoy your exercise routine in the gym, by all means keep doing it. It’s more likely you’ll come back that way! If you’re a beginner, try making functional exercises a third of your resistance routine, and then build up to two-thirds. Proper form is essential to avoid injury and get results, so consider investing in a few sessions with a trainer to learn the basics.