New Lily

Functional Fitness Works When Other Types of Exercise Are Elusive

Functional Fitness is fitness that we do outside of a scheduled workout time…it’s the stuff that we sometimes forget to count, but that counts for a lot!  Mowing the lawn with a push mower, landscaping (moving rocks, logs, gardening), using stairs at home for a quick and dirty workout, walking or running around a soccer field while the kids are at practice.   All of these fit under the functional fitness category (almost anything goes) and can go a long way to improve conditioning when you least expect it!

This is the path my kids and I made. The large rocks were already there but we added the stones and the logs down to the lake.

I am in Maine for most of the summer. We are fortunate to have the opportunity to visit Maine every summer.  Since we recently became homeowners here, there is a lot of work to be done.  In fact, my husband and I underestimated the amount of work it takes.  So far we have put together 8 beds, a dresser, a grill, and two rocking chairs.  The kids and I landscaped a path, which included rolling 30 logs and standing them upright to create a kind of fence, and then carrying about 100 large rocks to extend the path to the water.  The following day I awoke with soreness in areas I am certain I have never been sore before.

That is what functional fitness feels like.  We often think of traditional exercise as a means in itself. In other words, we exercise for the sake of feeling better and looking better and maybe in order to allow us to enjoy other things like food or drink (sometimes we work out so we can eat more). Functional fitness is also a means to an end, yet the end is something entirely different. Landscaping the path to the water was the end result, and you could say that fitness was just a side benefit.  Yet I felt satisfied in a way that ordinary fitness hasn’t satisfied me for a while.  Don’t get me wrong, I love a good workout.  I think that as I get older, however, I recognize how precious time is…how valuable every

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good workout.  Exercise is as important to my regimen as it always has been, if not more. However, as I get older, I recognize how precious time is…how valuable every moment truly is and how limited our time is here.  Do I want to spend it in a gym or on a treadmill? Perhaps less of it than I used to.   I still enjoy a long run alone or with friends to clear my mind and move endorphins.  Yet, I am finding other ways to fulfill the exercise obligation while getting other priorities checked off as well.

Any thought I had of getting up early to run in Maine this summer has gone out the window…but I have worked out a lot (not even meaning to). Sometimes traditional forms of exercise are elusive, but there is usually a way to fit in exercise to your daily life.  Even if you take a 30 minute break at lunch and walk your parking lot at work, that counts!

Cross Fit and other types of strength training fitness claim that they are a type of functional fitness, and I would agree that those kinds of work outs certainly prepare our bodies forfunctionall fitness by changing things up and moving from one kind of strength exercise to a quick cardio sprint, to another weight bearing exercise.  Yet there is nothing like incorporating a work out into regular work.  Like doing yard work or other kinds of outdoor work or incorporating a work out into the normal activities we do every day.

The following are a list of just a few of the things that could be considered functional fitness. Do you get a chance to include functional fitness into your work out routine?

  • Take a long walk with the dog or the kids
  • Fast walk the grocery store (time yourself and walk fast while you shop).
  • Mow the lawn (not on a riding mower!)
  • Do lunges on your way to wherever you are going. (even 10-20 a day can make a difference)
  • Start or end your day with 30. (10 push ups, 10 sit ups, and 10 squats).
  • Do your own landscape improvement project.
  • Plant and tend a garden (you will eat better too).
  • Walk or run at your child’s practice field (for me it was outside the pool where my kids practice every day.


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