Functional fitness: Exercise you can live with

Planet Fitness recently ran a brilliant ad campaign that positioned itself as “the average person’s gym.” The campaign’s core message: You won’t find finely-tuned, extreme athletes at Planet Fitness. You’ll find people like you and me. People who recognize that fitness is a path toward improving their quality of life. That, in a nutshell, is what functional fitness is all about.

A trainer from Texas Mutual policyholder Cooper Clinic demonstrates a simple exercise for strengthening your back and core.

Functional fitness trains your muscles to perform everyday activities without getting injured.

For professional football players like JJ Watt, that means 61-inch box jumps and 1,000-pound tire rolls.

For the rest of us, it means body-weight squats, step-ups, wood chops and other exercises that mimic movements we do every day.

Why functional fitness?
Workplace safety typically includes three umbrella components:

  1. Identify workplace hazards.
  2. Eliminate hazards or reduce employees’ exposure.
  3. Teach and enforce safe behaviors.

The standard accident prevention model works well. But it doesn’t capitalize on the symbiotic relationship between employee safety and wellness.

Simply put, healthy employees suffer fewer injuries, especially injuries to the joints, muscles and tendons. And when healthy employees do get injured, they recover and return to work sooner.

Meanwhile, their employers reap the benefits in terms of increased productivity and reduced operating costs.

Functional fitness exercises improve our posture, flexibility, range of motion, joint alignment, bone density and core strength. That is especially important for older workers, whose bodies are not as strong, mobile or flexible as they once were.

A University of La-Crosse Wisconsin study found that older adults who did functional fitness training showed a 43 percent improvement in shoulder flexibility. They also enhanced their strength, cardiorespiratory endurance, agility and balance.

In our next post, we’ll see how the UPS leveraged functional fitness to turn its workplace safety record around.

Follow our series on functional fitness
This post is the second installment in our series on functional fitness. If you missed the first installment, click on the link below:

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