Warming Up To Exercise

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We all know the importance of doing a pre-exercise warm-up. Yet too often, I’ll see folks arrive in the gym and quickly grab heavy weights, head to a machine, or jump into a cardio class, full steam ahead. Usually, they’re soon out of breath, exhausted, and unable to finish their reps or routine.

Warming up, stretching, and cooling down are necessary components for a successful and complete fitness regimen. Think of it as prep-work, the same way you’d study for a final exam or have your car checked out before taking it on the road for a long trip.

Here are a few warm-up ideas, along with several other ways to fit exercise into our busy lives.

Before diving into an aerobics class or weight-lifting session, stretch your muscles and joints with a few simple moves.

  1. Stand straight and lift your arms out to your sides. Rotate your shoulders forward and backward for 10-12 reps to loosen the joints.
  2. Raise your arms above your head, breathing in. Keeping them straight, sweep them down to your sides in a wide arc, breathing out. Repeat for 12 reps.
  3. Position your feet in a wide stance, toes pointing forward. Bend at the waist to one side, sliding your hand down the outside of your leg. Reach the opposite arm up and over your head and hold for three breaths. Repeat on the other side for 8-10 sets.
  4. With your feet in a wide stance and toes pointed forward, do 12 squats, pushing your butt back as if you’re about to sit in a chair. Watch your knees and be careful not to let them shift forward of your toes.
  5. Keeping your knees soft, bend forward at the waist and reach your hands toward the ground. Hold the pose for five breaths, feeling your spine lengthen and relax.

No time to do a full workout? There are plenty of opportunities to effectively move and exercise your body through the day. If you’re at home, you can vacuum the floors, clear out a closet, wash the car, do a little gardening, or dance around the kitchen.

Headed to a store? Park at the far end of the lot and walk to the entrance. If you’re in a large mall and there are stairs, use them.

Planning a cruise? Fortunately, almost every ship has a gym. Walk around the deck before heading to the fitness center or take the stairs to the pool level and circle it a few times, enjoying the view. Use the same strategies if you’re staying at a resort or hotel. If there’s a gym, find the long way to get there.

If you’re lucky enough to have an employer who offers an inter-company fitness center or gym membership, take full advantage. Dedicate a portion of your lunch hour, breaks, or before/after working hours to get in a workout. No excuses! It’s just as easy to pack a gym bag as it is to prepare a light, nourishing lunch. Put on your exercise shoes and take a walk to the gym to warm up. Skip the elevators!

Going on a long flight? Hopefully you’ll have a stop in-between. Instead of rushing to the next gate and sitting during a layover, take your time walking the concourse to stretch your legs. Be sure to give yourself enough time to get to your gate, and listen for any flight change announcements. Purchase a bottle of water and stay hydrated during your walk.

You get the idea . . .

Stretch and strengthen your body by taking advantage of those moments during your day to get up and move. And remember to prepare yourself for exercise by taking the time to warm up your muscles and joints. You’ll find yourself with more energy, focus, and stamina to keep going!

Keep it healthy,

 

Jill Reid
Kitchen Spirit