Functional Fitness

Muscle strength and flexibility needed to work, participate in sports and engage in everyday activities, such as carrying groceries. Functional fitness exercises incorporate various muscles in the upper and lower body at the same time. They also emphasize core stability, balance and flexibility. Functional fitness exercises can be performed at home or a gym. Many gyms, including YMCAs, include functional fitness in some of their classes.

Many types of exercises enhance functional fitness. Squats, for example, can build muscles used to pick up objects off the ground and get in and out of chairs. Lunges can prepare the body for such activities as vacuuming and yard work. Yoga and tai chi can improve core strength, flexibility and balance.

Unlike traditional strength exercises, such as weight-lifting, which often use only a few muscle groups and joints at a time, functional fitness exercises tend to use many muscle groups and joints all at once. These types of exercises can make everyday life easier, decrease the likelihood of falls and prevent injuries. If you haven’t exercised in a while, it’s a good idea to check with your health-care team before starting an exercise program.

Want to learn more about exercising with pain? Read “Exercise 101: Finding the Right Exercises for Pain Relief” and “Exercise & Arthritis.”

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