When thinking about functional training, so often we think in terms of using movements that are appropriate to those in your chosen sport or the activities of daily life that you are wishing to strengthen. For example over on hillfit, I often talk about training balance or using exercises like the lunge which mimic the movements that you use in hillwalking.
But there is more to being fit and functionally fit than simply strengthening the movements that you use, or even the energy systems that you will use to power those moves. There are also things like reaction time. In a fight you need to be able to react fast to the strike coming at you. in a football match you need to react quickly to the pass coming at you....when walking in the hills and you slip on a ridge, you need to react fast to the fall.....
This study says that fitness improves reaction time - apparently even without specific training. In fact the study says that even a single bout of exercise helps....This makes sense sort of intuitively, just with the idea of needing to "wake up" your muscles and nerves..
The effect of a single session submaximal aerobic exercise on premotor fraction of reaction time: An electromyographic study.
BACKGROUND: Numerous studies investigating the effect of exercise on reaction time have yielded contradictory results. Most of the studies use computer based methods to measure reaction time instead of electromyography, yielding total reaction time rather than premotor time. In this study, we aimed to investigate the effect of a single session aerobic exercise on premotor fraction of reaction time in sedentary healthy individuals.
METHODS: Twenty-two sedentary healthy subjects (11 subjects for the study group and 11 for the control group) enrolled in this study. Subjects in the exercise group performed a single session submaximal cycling exercise. Electromyographic reaction times were measured before and after the exercise session. In the control group, reaction time measurements were taken twice with an interval of 20min.
FINDINGS: In the exercise group, premotor fraction of reaction time values decreased considerably (P=0.01) after the exercise session.
INTERPRETATION: A single bout of cycling exercise significantly improved premotor fraction of reaction time in healthy young sedentary subjects. Physical activity improves not only physical fitness but also cognitive functions. Electromyographic reaction time evaluations may be used in the sports medicine field where both aerobic fitness and short reaction time are indispensable demands.