What is functional fitness? There is a good chance that you and your family are already engaging in functional fitness! Functional fitness exercises train your muscles to work together to help you do everyday activities. Examples can include basic movements such as pushing, pulling, and bending.
Functional fitness is important in order to keep muscles and joints moving and stay in good shape. Additionally, being an active family can decrease the risk of certain chronic diseases, like type 2 diabetes and heart disease, as well as help you establish and achieve health goals. How can you and your family continue to incorporate or start engaging in functional fitness with your everyday routines?
Keep reading below to learn more about the different areas of functional fitness, as well as different fun movements and easy activities that you can do at home!
- Aerobic Capacity: Aerobic exercise, also known as cardio exercise, increases your heart and breathing rate so that your heart and lungs can deliver oxygen to the muscles that are working harder. Some examples of aerobic exercises that you and your family can try include hiking or going for a run at a local nature trail, dancing to your favorite playlist in the living room, or doing jumping jacks during TV commercial breaks.
- Flexibility: Flexibility is the range of motion that is possible across the joints in your body. Flexibility will vary between individuals due to muscle and joint lengths, as well as age. There are fun and easy ways you can improve flexibility such as lunges, practicing yoga, or simply stretches for a few minutes every day. Check out these stretching exercises from the American Heart Association to help you improve your flexibility.
- Strength: Strength is your muscles’ ability to push or pull against an object. Strength exercises help keep your muscles and bones strong and include activities like tug-of-war, climbing a jungle gym, or even something as simple as home exercises like step ups, leg raises, or planks.
- Endurance: Endurance is the ability for your muscles to do repetitive movements voluntarily without fatigue and the ability to hold muscles in a fixed position for a long period. For fun ideas that involve the whole family, try playing a game of tag or hide and seek in the backyard, taking a bike ride in the neighborhood, or having a living room dance party at home to further build endurance.
- Coordination: Similar to multitasking, coordination is using multiple body parts to work together or at the same time. A common example is hand-eye coordination. Coordination activities can include jumping rope or double-dutch and playing a game of catch in the backyard.
- Balance: Balance is the ability to keep an upright or steady posture when you are in a fixed position (static balance) or while you are moving (dynamic balance). Next time you and your family are engaging in physical activity together, try a game hopscotch, a contest to see who can stand the longest on one leg like a flamingo, or a pretend game of walking on a balance beam with heel-to-toe walking.
- Agility: Agility is how well you can change position and direction quickly while your body is in motion. It is especially important because it combines other areas of fitness like endurance, coordination, and balance. Agility activities can include games of freeze-tag, musical chairs, or red-light green-light at home. As a family, you can also play a fun game of basketball and focus on pivoting or dribbling around obstacles.
The options for functional fitness activities are endless! No matter what area of functional fitness you and your family want to focus on, there are plenty of choices for the whole family to engage in at home or around the community. For more information about functional fitness training, read Mayo Clinic’s article.
For more games and examples of physical activity that can be done with the entire family, visit CNS’s Healthy Choices in Motion curriculum newsletters.