Keeping the Fun in Functional Fitness

Functional fitness is not new – farmers have been doing it since the Neolithic Revolution when we abandoned our hunter-gatherer ways to set up Agrarian societies – but it has been experiencing something of a renaissance in the fitness world. This week we take a look at how to keep it fun.

Functional fitness is pretty much what it sounds like: keeping fit in order to function well in your life. This means instead of doing bicep curls, which move just the elbow and target just the bicep, you work all of your muscles in activities similar to those you engage in during your daily life, such as sitting down and getting up from a chair squats or hauling your groceries out of the backseat of your car.

The Mayo Clinic gives this example: “A squat is a functional exercise because it trains the muscles used when you rise up and down from a chair or pick up low objects. By training your muscles to work the way they do in everyday tasks, you prepare your body to perform well in a variety of common situations.” ( The Washington Post explains it this way in For Lots of Us, ‘Beach Body’ Isn’t the Goal: Why ‘Functional Fitness’ Works: “Functional fitness at its core means training the body in the context of how the body is used in daily life,” says Jessica Matthews, a senior adviser for the American Council on Exercise (ACE). “It focuses on integrated, multi-joint exercises instead of a more isolated approach,” adds Matthews, who is also an assistant professor of exercise science at San Diego Miramar College. (

In other words, these functional exercises create a solid, muscular foundation that not only helps us do stuff, but also helps prevent injury, improve balance, build agility, and improve our capability and flexibility. Bingo! Maybe Functional Fitness is the fountain of youth? (We like to think functional water is, too.)

You can enjoy functional fitness at home or at the gym. Whichever you choose, you’ll use more of your joints and muscles in more comprehensive ways. It’s sort of like running around like a little kid during recess. Kids run, jump, lunge, skip, somersault, swing, teeter totter…all very functional activities that prepare their young bodies for movements they’ll engage in every day of their adult lives.

Think of it as getting back to the playground, which is much more fun than getting back to the Neolithic Revolution.

Get out there. Have fun. Get fit. Stay hydrated.