Functional exercises, in my opinion, are the “best” kind of exercises in that you get the most “overall benefit” per unit time doing them.  This is especially true for those who don’t have that much time to dedicate to exercise.

Basically, functional exercises are those that engage the whole body rather than one section at a time.  They improve strength, coordination, and muscle stamina; and have cardiovascular benefits as well.  For example, arm curls, bench pressing, and leg pressing are not considered functional exercises because they target just one area.  An example of a functional exercise would be carrying a 30# sandbag on your shoulder and walking up a hill.

Most people group exercise as either cardio or strength.  But coordination is often forgotten.  You see, muscle groups need to have good coordination between them in order for your body to function at its peak and be the most resistant to injury.  Muscle coordination is a neurological function as much as it is a muscular contraction function.  The proper “firing sequence” of neurons to each muscle fiber must be fine tuned in order to have optimum muscle performance, and this is done by repetitious, combined movements of multiple groups.  Functional exercises do just that.   Do them often, and you will notice that common movements will be easier to do, such as walking up a long flight of stairs, or lifting something heavy and placing it on a higher level.

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