Exercise is great for losing weight, but it also helps improve your daily life by making it easier to go up and down steps, put boxes on high shelves, carry heavy bags of groceries, get out of a chair or bend over to pick something up.
Functional fitness, a popular fitness trend, focuses on actions such as those with movements that emulate real-life activities. Instead of working an isolated muscle or muscle group that works independently, functional fitness uses compound movements to integrate many muscles, all working together.
A squat is a good example of a compound exercise because it targets many muscles in the lower body: front and back of thighs, calves, glutes, lower back and core. A good functional fitness program should integrate a variety of exercise movements that include strength, endurance, flexibility, balance, core strengthening, posture and agility.
This is not to suggest eliminating exercises that isolate a specific muscle to strengthen. Both functional and isolation training are needed in your fitness tool box.
• Burn more calories by using more muscles and joints to perform compound exercises.
• Add variety to your workout.
• Keep heart rate up, providing cardio benefits.
• Provide an "express workout," allowing a full-body workout to be done in less time.
• Train core muscles because you have to contract abdominals to stabilize your body.
• Challenge your balance and will include rotational and bending movements.
• Improve coordination, helping you to move better.
• Offer great training for golfers and tennis players.
Check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program. Sally Anderson is happy to hear from readers but can't respond to individual inquiries. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.