I believe that at its best and purest, functional fitness is the degree of physical and mental conditioning and cleansing that allows us to perform the activities that we need and desire to do from day to day — and also in a pinch. It is living a life relatively free from pain, stiffness, aches and physical limitation. It is knowing what to do when aches and pains come upon us, and it’s being knowledgeable and empowered enough to turn things around with our health as needed.
Some of the best examples I know of functional fitness is being able to carry groceries from the store to the car, unload groceries and put them away, reach up high to put something away or take something out of a cabinet. Other examples are lawn mowing (on foot) and sustained gardening.
Additional examples include:
- Walking or jogging or running without getting winded or exhausted.
- Moving boxes, helping someone move furniture.
- Catching ourselves when we fall and having the flexibility and agility to prevent or minimize injury and pain.
- Sitting on the floor without discomfort.
At its most basic level, functional fitness is preserving the body’s and the mind’s strength, flexibility, balance and agility throughout a lifetime so that we may continue to be as independent and pain-free as we desire.
It’s being able to…
- Get down and get up with grace
- Sit down and get up with the same
- Bend over and pick up something
- Go up and down stairs with ease
Regardless of the physical condition we find ourselves in today, I believe there is almost always a way to improve our quality of life, to increase our energy, our strength, our posture and our outlook.
Maybe it starts with a belief that we can — that’s it’s possible. Maybe it starts with one exercise or a shift in habit and seeing positive evidence with our own eyes.
Each of us has the right and the responsibility, I believe, to define what functional fitness is for us. If you are not on the path of readying your body for the now while preparing it for the future, I have two questions for you:
- Why not?
- What’s it gonna take?