What Is Functional Fitness?
The term functional means useful or necessary. A person who is not functional will never function well at all. That’s why it is essential to have a good understanding of what functional fitness actually is. There are many definitions of what constitutes functional fitness, but they tend to fall into two categories: aerobic and anaerobic (or muscle) strength and endurance.
Aerobic refers to activities like running, swimming, cycling, rowing and other sports where oxygen is used up quickly. These types of activities are usually done at low intensity with short recovery periods. Aerobics is often considered a form of cardio exercise and therefore doesn’t count towards your daily physical activity requirement.
However, if you’re trying to lose weight or build muscle then aerobics may be beneficial.
Anaerobic refers to activities like lifting weights, sprinting, jumping rope and other sports where muscles use energy rather than oxygen. Anaerobic exercises are usually done at high intensity with long recovery periods. Strength training such as pushups, pull ups and squats are examples of anaerobic exercises.
If you’re trying to gain lean body mass or improve your athletic performance then these types of exercises may be beneficial.
As you can see, there are two types of exercise which work the body in different ways. For this reason, people often wonder whether or not we need to do both in order to stay fit and healthy. The simple answer is that it depends on your goals.
However, what most people don’t know is that some exercises can actually benefit you in both aerobic and anaerobic ways. This is where “cross-training” comes in.
What Is Cross-Training?
Cross-training is the term used to refer to performing two different types of exercise in one workout session. Although it is better known as a training method for athletes, it can be applied by anyone looking to improve their physical fitness. Cross-training involves doing a combination of two different types of exercise. This could mean doing an aerobic activity like running and then following it up with an anaerobic activity like weight lifting. It could also involve doing two different types of anaerobic exercise like weight lifting and sprinting.
Most experts recommend that you limit your cross-training to two different types of activity in one session. Any more than that and it gets difficult to focus on any one thing. Also, the types of activity used for cross-training should complement each other in some way (like the first example above).
For example, you wouldn’t want to do a weight-training exercise that focused on the upper body and then follow it up with a lower body aerobic activity. This is because your muscles will already be in use and not able to recover properly, which would actually hurt your performance in both activities.
Cross-training can take many forms and there are many different activities that count. For example, a runner could do some weight training or even perform aerobics in the off season to complement their running. However, if your main goal is to improve your running times then you would be better off sticking to just running since that’s what you’re training for.
Cross-training is a great way to improve your fitness level or to try something new. It is especially useful during the off-season for athletes who are bored with their usual routine. It can also be helpful for people who compete in more than one sport since it keeps the body guessing and helps prevent injury.
However, if your main goal is to get better at a specific sport then you’re probably better off just training for that sport.
Cross-training can be especially effective for recreational athletes or anyone who is trying to improve their overall fitness. However, unless your fitness level is very poor, cross-training is not necessary for everyone. So if you’re an elite athlete or someone who wants to specialize in one particular sport then you might not need to cross-train.
Benefits of Cross-Training
Cross-training can help improve your fitness level and keep you from getting bored with your exercise routine. It can also help prevent you from getting injured since you’re not placing all the stress on your muscles in the same way. This is especially true if you’re combining aerobic and anaerobic exercise since both types of activity can be stressful on your muscles.
The most obvious benefit of cross-training is that it opens up a whole new world of exercise choices. It’s very easy to get in a rut where you do the same thing over and over. This can lead to burnout and it doesn’t allow you to experience the benefits of all the different types of activities that are out there.
If you’re mainly concerned with aerobic activities then you might try your hand at anaerobic exercise, and vice versa.
Especially for recreational athletes, cross-training can be fun and a great motivator to keep you going in your fitness program. There are so many different types of activities to choose from that you’re sure to find something that you like. Just make sure you don’t get too caught up in it and start neglecting your main sport.
Cross-training can be a great supplement to your regular workout routine. As with anything, it’s all about using common sense and listening to your body. If you start feeling worn out then you might need to cut back on some of the extra activities you’ve been doing.
And if you’re just starting out and trying to fit exercise into your life for the first time then cross-training is a great way to go since you can start slowly and gradually increase your overall activity level.
Sources & references used in this article:
Functional fitness for older adults by PA Brill – 2004 – books.google.com
Effects of six weeks of detraining on retention of functional fitness of old people after nine weeks of multicomponent training by NF Toraman, N Ayceman – British journal of sports medicine, 2005 – bjsm.bmj.com
Functional Fitness Assessment for Adults Over 60 Years (A Field Based Assessment). by WH Osness – 1990 – ERIC
Reliability and validity of the Fullerton Functional Fitness Test: an independent replication study by JM Miotto, WJ Chodzko-Zajko… – Journal of Aging …, 1999 – journals.humankinetics.com