When we speak of functional fitness, we are speaking of the fitness level (and level of physical training) that will allow a person to perform their regular activities with ease. Our sedentary lifestyle can cause a loss of the ability to perform simple daily activities. Taking a fall or getting an injury can be prevented by taking a small amount of time daily to work on core muscle training and balance.
Even my “already fit” friends and clients come to me and complain about their aching back after doing some serious gardening work. They are fit, but their bodies are not trained for the physical movements gardening requires. Bending and lifting can cause injury if your body is not strong enough to perform such activities. Performing bodybuilding exercises that involve only one muscle group, or that build strength through the method of handling weight in one area of the body, does not contribute to overall strength and balance that’s important in gardening.
Why functional fitness is important in gardening?
Focused bodybuilding movements are not natural. They don’t mimic the kind of development we experience when growing and becoming stronger from childhood into adulthood. As we grow up and participate in normal activities, we use multiple muscle groups in combination and use our bodies on multiple planes. An example of this is the type of running and darting activity the body experiences when playing a game such as dodgeball. This is the natural way our bodies are built up through everyday activities of living as we grow and mature.
In gardening, we bend, twist and turn… such movements engage multiple groups of muscles and many planes of movement. The main muscles that are used in such activity are the lower back and core muscles. Often it requires weight-bearing movements, like lifting pots or a bag of soil from one place to another. This is why functional fitness training is so essential.
With this understanding, it’s important to perform exercises that will strengthen and tone the muscles for daily activities. This is even more important to those who are exceptionally sedentary, such as seniors.
Working out for real life situations?
Put simply, functional fitness is about working out and preparing your body for real life situations. It is possible to set up your own functional fitness training program, but it’s always best to ask for guidance from a fitness instructor. This type of training can be done using a cable machine at your local gym. This machine incorporates a system of pulleys that can be moved in multiple directions, thus involving major muscle groups simultaneously.
Functional fitness training can also be done at home. Some examples of exercises you can do include lunges in multiple directions. To perform this exercise, you would stand holding one knee at a 90° angle while keeping the other knee parallel to the floor. Lunge out in a variety of directions while performing the exercise.
Here’s how to do reverse lunges:
For the complete workout and more warm-up exercises for gardening, download our free “Ready, Set, Dig” report.
Takeaway: Performing functional fitness exercise routines will help you stay in shape, challenge your balance and coordination, and improve overall strength and range of motion. Being functionally fit will help prevent injuries incurred when doing activities like gardening.