Of course, maintaining your long-term health requires more than just a regular exercise habit, but physical fitness is certainly a significant part of the equation.
However, beyond the more traditional notions of physical fitness — running a marathon, boot camp style workouts sessions or extra intense CrossFit WODs — there’s what’s referred to as functional fitness, or exercise that builds and enhances the strength and mobility needed to accomplish everyday tasks.
Functional exercises, explains Kimberly Watkins, a New York City-based fitness trainer and CEO of inSHAPE Fitness and inMOTION Exercise On Demand, serve to distribute blood flow to muscles, keep joints lubricated and promote pain-free movement in everyday life.
“Furthermore, being able to endure an elevated heart rate, lowering down to the ground and getting back up, sleeping well and maintaining a level of energy needed to get through the day are all the components of a successful functional fitness regimen,” she said.
No doubt, we all want to hold on to these qualities of good health and youth, but since with age our bodies naturally experience a decrease in muscle and bone mass, flexibility, and even balance, the role of exercise becomes even more important.
Additionally, notes Patrick J. Sweeney II, a former Olympic-level athlete, trainer and adventure TV personality, it’s important not only to focus on exercises that mimic the movements of everyday life, but that also incorporate multiple disciplines.
“[By that] I mean making sure each workout contains at least two or three of the following elements — strength, balance endurance agility and coordination,” he said.
In other words, a well-rounded functional fitness routine, like the one we’re about to share, can help to prevent and even reverse some of the side effects associated with growing older and ultimately, helping you stay fit and strong for life.
For a full workout, perform three rounds of the following 10 exercises for the designated amount of repetitions. Or, as a supplement to your regular workout routine, simply perform one round of all 10 exercises every day.
This exercise targets the core, lower body and helps to enhance balance.
How To: Stand on your left leg and hold a kettlebell or dumbbell in your right hand. Maintain a neutral spine as you hinge at your hips, lowering the kettlebell towards the floor and allowing your right leg to extend out behind you. Pause for a beat before slowly reversing the motion and returning to the start position. Perform 8 to 12 reps and then repeat on the other side.
One-Legged Shoulder Press
This exercise targets the major shoulder muscles while also enhancing balance.
How To: Stand on your left leg. Hold a kettlebell or dumbbell in your right hand and keep your core tight and spine neutral as you raise it straight above your head. Slowly lower your right arm down so that your right elbow and forearm form a 90-degree angle (pictured here). Repeat the movement for 8 to 12 reps and then repeat on the other side.