What are examples of functional fitness exercises?

Multifaceted physical movements found in activities such as tai chi and Pilates involve varying combinations of resistance and flexibility training that can help build functional fitness.

Other examples of specific functional fitness movements that use multiple joints and muscles include:

  • Multidirectional lunges
  • Standing bicep curls
  • Step-ups with weights

Multidirectional lunges prepare your body for common activities, such as vacuuming and yardwork. To do a lunge, you keep one leg in place and step out with the other leg — to the front, back or side — until your knee reaches a 90-degree angle and your rear knee is parallel to the floor.

Are functional fitness exercises for everyone?

If you are older than age 40, haven't exercised for some time or have health problems, it's a good idea to check with your doctor before starting any new exercise program. Similarly, women who are pregnant should check with their doctors.

It's also a good idea to start with exercises that use only your own body weight for resistance. As you become more fit and ready for more of a challenge, you can add more resistance in the form of weights, resistance tubing or performing movements in the water.

The functional fitness payoff

As you add more functional exercises to your workout, you should see improvements in your ability to perform your everyday activities and, thus, in your quality of life. That's quite a return on your exercise investment.

Feb. 05, 2014 See more In-depth