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Functional Exercise

by Denise Fisher, AT

· exercise

What is functional exercise? I recently saw an article in the health and fitness journal, and the article title was "FUNctional Exercise Training". How cool is that? I have found functional exercises to be FUN because it utilizes the full body, and you can be creative. So what are functional exercises? Well, functional exercises, by definition, are exercises that train your muscles to work together. Functional exercises help to develop and condition your muscles so they can respond efficiently to activities of daily living and sports.

Where to start?Starting a program can be very overwhelming. However, if you start slowly with simple exercises and gradually build up to more challenging and dynamic exercises, you will end up enjoying the benefits of a functional exercise program. First, start by thinking about what you need to improve. For example, my legs are strong, but my upper back needs improvement because I have a poor posture when I sit, and when I try to correct my position, I get sore. So my focus should be on core strengthening, upper back strengthening, and stretching the anterior chest and shoulders. There are lots of resources online and apps for all levels of abilities. I like the app HITT Workouts by Daily Burn, YouTube- Redefining Strength, and Pinterest for exercise ideas. I try my best to change things up. It's essential, so you don't lose interest or cause overuse injuries. We all get stuck doing the same routine because it's easy, but I encourage you to try new forms of exercise. Your body and mind will be happy you did!

Example of a Functional Exercise Program

 Warm-up x 5-10 min
• Light jog
• Jump rope
• Stationary bike
•Yoga flow- an easy way to target all the muscles for a detailed stretching routine. I like the Sun Salutation. See Pinterest for Sun Salutation.
• Upper and lower body stretching (Dynamic and Static) See Pinterest
Functional Exercise Program
• Front Squat + Press — 15 reps

• Glute Bridge + Tricep Kick — 15 reps
• Static Lunge + Bicep Curl — 8 reps per leg
• Sumo Squat + Upright Row — 12 reps

• Glute Bridge Hold + Chest Fly — 12 reps
• Curtsy Lunge + L-Fly (Deltoid Fly) — 8 reps per leg
• Plank + Alternating Row — 8 reps per arm
• All Fours Alternate arm and Leg extension + abdominal crunch elbow to the knee — 8 reps per leg

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