Pumping dumbbells at the local
gym might be a breeze, but if
you're breathless while running
up the stairs or give up
within two laps of swimming,
your body is only being partially exercised.
All that bicep bulk isn't helping
you perform any better.
Maybe rolling back to the basics
and exercising the body as a unit will
help. It's called functional fitness, and
it involves exercising a variety of muscles
all at once while also focussing
on your core. The exercises all of
which are activities that help your
body deal well with real-life situations can also be done using regular
household objects. And the benefits
are visible, people say.
But don't take this to mean that
functional fitness exercises are any
easier. There's a scientific way of going
about them, and the pressure needs
to build periodically. "Take a conventional
form of exercise such as running
and squatting, and personalise
it to your body's needs. Or build an
entire workout around a daily activity,"
says fitness instructor Madhuri
Ruia. "These are effective ways to stay
functionally fit at home."
Start by taking the stairs daily. Try
not to use remote controls for everything.
Even when returning home
from the market, carry your own
shopping bags, and while you're at
it, keep your posture straight, walk
briskly and divide the weight equally
between the two hands.
Alternately, sitting and casually
bouncing on a Swiss ball
while watching TV or reading
a book helps the back muscles
immensely. Elastic bands with
varying levels of resistance,
too, are just as helpful.
(29), a chartered
a c c o u n t a n t ,
makes use of the
chairs in her house to do sit-ups. She
also frequently rolls up her aerobic
mat, holds it vertical and uses it to
support herself while doing squats
and other leg exercises which help
her core. "Just make sure that your
core is engaged with whatever you do,
even if it's sweeping and swabbing.
You will sense the tension when you're
out of breath. But if your instinct says
something's doesn't feel right, stop
immediately," adds Ruia.
Don't sit still, improvise
Experts say that as you experiment,
you'll discover new ways to exercise
different muscle groups simultaneously.
"There are three commonly
known kinds of crunches forward,
backward and reverse besides what
you might design for yourself. And
then you can play with the way you
climb the stairs, too take two steps
at a time, climb backwards, sprint,
jog, step up and down," says Dr
Mustafa Topiwala (27), a sports trainer
and physiotherapist with Saifee
Hospital. This is also true for the
resistance bands that work out different
muscle sets in your body.
Homemaker Sheetal Kher (25),
mother of a six-month old, has taken
to gardening with gusto. "Weeding
the small garden in my compound and
watering the saplings is so much more
exhausting than I thought. I have to
bend a lot, and it's helping my posture,"
However, get some advice from a
physiotherapist before embarking on
your functional fitness regime. Get to
know what kinds of functional fitness
exercises will suit you best, and once
you've got the hang of it, you can
improvise. Set aside a fixed time slot
and gradually increase the intensity.
You'll know for sure that you're fit
when you sense an inner strength in
your core, and your muscles all hold
up well under pressure. Eat healthy
food take in a lot of proteins, healthy
fats and vegetables.
And just to gauge the improvement,
take up a challenging outdoor sport.
How good you are at it will be an indicator
of how functionally fit your body