Functional fitness training (FFT) is the official name for exercises that improve strength,balance and flexibility.  It is not a new concept. It has been  used to assist individuals return to their normal daily activities following a heart attack, stroke, surgeries and other medical setbacks.

FFT is increasingly being used preventively to reduce risk of injury and maintain independence. Unlike traditional fitness moves that work just one or two muscle groups at a time, FFT focuses on whole-body movements that mimic the twisting, bending, turning, crouching and reaching that you do all day long. While using various muscles in the upper and lower body at the same time, functional fitness exercises also emphasize core stability. FFT also useful with improving sports activities.

Functional exercise training may be especially beneficial as part of a comprehensive program for older adults to improve balance, agility and muscle strength, and reduce the risk of falls.

Most signature exercises of  FFT haven’t gone away, they are being supplemented by recent ideas such as introducing unstable surfaces(using Bosu equipment) or equipment that elevates the exercise challenge, (suspension exercises).

Comprehensive physical movements found in activities such as tai chi and yoga involve varying combinations of resistance and flexibility training that can help build functional fitness. Multidirectional lunges help prepare your body for common activities, such as vacuuming and yard-work.

If you 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 and consult with a physical therapist or fitness instructor trained in FFT.

It’s also a good idea to start with exercises that use only your own body weight for resistance.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.