Are you functionally fit? What does that really even mean? Well, ask yourself, can you handle everyday tasks like carrying in the groceries without having some sort of aches or pain? Can you walk for long distances without your knees or shins giving out on you? If not, then functional fitness training might the ideal method of exercise for you. Investing for your future is important — and so is investing in the lifestyle and quality of life you wish to lead as you get older.

We can assume that everyone would agree that health is the greatest wealth and that it’s not something to take for granted. While your health is not something over which you have complete control, many of the choices you make — to exercise, to have a certain diet or to be active in the way you want to be and to manage your stress, for example, can go a long way towards helping you stay healthy long-term.

What is functional fitness?

To make this simple, functional fitness is exactly what it sounds like. It’s kind of turned into a bit of a buzzword actually. Matter of fact, it means being in shape to handle the tasks of everyday living with relative ease and without unwarranted aches and pains. It mostly incorporates strength training, and perhaps to some degree cardio training, to make your quality of life manageable and enjoyable without extra strain. Now, this doesn’t mean you have to have a six pack – it just means that your fit enough to be in a consistent state of homeostasis.

Roughly ten years ago, like many new parents, I found out what a lack of functional fitness meant on a first-hand basis, when my youngest daughter was born. Although I did exercise quite often, my body was ill-prepared to carry around a rapidly growing infant around in a car seat, let alone everything else that went along with it like bending, twisting, and lifting required to install everything and remove her car or stroller seat over and over on a daily basis.

My shoulders and neck were stiff shut to the point where it hurt to even turn my head at times. So, that’s when I changed up how I trained. I trained quicker, smarter, and with completing everyday tasks in mind. It was retraining my brain to exercise in a way that worked for my new grind.

What Are The Right Exercises?

Functional fitness exercises are primarily designed to train muscles you use every day for whatever activities are the norm for you. If you go from a sitting to a standing position a lot throughout the day, then you may wish to do an exercise like squats to train your glutes and other muscles that facilitate that movement. If you carry heavy things around, then you may wish to train your biceps, shoulders, and back a little more. It really depends on what kind of things you do to strain your muscles.

Many personal trainers and other types of fitness professionals now recognize the value of functional fitness training and teach exercises that involve multiple joints and muscles. Compound exercises like chest press, squats, back rows are usually the best for this element of training. For example, Busy Bee Fitness Experts, has a Toronto personal trainer that solely specializes in adaptive strength training for senior to help them manage their daily activities. Although it can be beneficial for people of all ages, the elderly are a particularly a vulnerable population that needs to focus on taking a practical approach to staying active. Although doing the usual gym routine isn’t necessarily for everyone, we encourage whatever it takes to get moving.

Who Is It For?

Quite simply, anyone can start working out to improve their health. There are some restrictions to keep in mind and you may wish to consult your doctor in some cases. Often a personal trainer or other fitness professional will tell you to seek medical advice if you have a heart condition or high blood pressure.

Also, if you’ve had broken bones in the past, it’s always advisable to seek the advice of someone who is experienced to help you learn the ropes and how to get started. “I have many clients that say they want to start training when they turn 60 because they want a correct posture or to not lose muscle mass”, says Scott. “60 in my opinion, is much too late.

By that time, there is likely advanced degeneration that will only be harder to repair the longer it goes unchecked”. It’s reasonable to assume that this is the case by looking at an increasingly injury elderly population. Over time, studies show that people are becoming less active as office jobs and tv are making us less productive in our lifestyle habits. This can be of massive detriment to our well-being.

“This type of training can make everyday activities easier, reduce the risk of injury and improve quality of life,” Scott from Busy Bee explains. He’s also a strong believer that such exercises are of particular benefit to adults in general who are eager to improve their coordination, gain overall musculature, and potentially reduce their risk of serious injury and falls that comes later in life.

Examples include variation lunges and easy step-ups using kettle-bells. Having a personal trainer that knows the ropes can make all the difference when getting started on functional fitness training. Toronto personal trainer is a great place to start, no matter your health and fitness level. Often just a few sessions are enough to help you get started and to learn to use different types of weights, a physio ball, resistance bands and handheld weights, as you master your way around standard exercises.

Luckily, it only takes a few weeks depending, sometimes a month or two before you can start to see real improvements and results. The best approach is to stick it out for as long as possible and develop it into a new routine.

Author's Bio: 

Mark Linda is a financial writer, health coach, and freelance coach. In the past 5 years, it's grown into a blog and community aimed at helping freelancers overcome financial mountains and build successful client-based businesses.