Warm Up to Exercise
by Stephanie Nickel
With the cooler weather upon us, I’d rather stay tucked under the covers. I am definitely not pioneer material. I remember climbing out of bed at my grandmother’s when I was a child and absolutely hating it. There was linoleum on the floor and there was no heat in the house until the fire in the woodstove was lit. Not my idea of fun.
Our muscles are a little like that. They don’t do so well if they’re cold.
Fitness professionals used to advise exercisers stretch their muscles before running or doing resistance training. Such is not the case anymore. If we stretch cold muscles, we can injure them.
While you don’t have to do a half hour of cardio before you do your resistance training, it’s a good idea to warm up your muscles beforehand, especially if you are lifting heavy weights and/or working to muscle fatigue, that point where you just can’t do one more bicep curl, squat, or crunch.
It’s also a good idea to start slow before a long run or even a sprint.
Just how can you warm up your muscles?
Spend some time at a moderate pace on a treadmill, an elliptical, or a stationary bike. Even ten or fifteen minutes will do the trick, without overtaxing the muscles.
And if the weather’s still nice, why not go outside for a short walk, take a bike ride around the neighbourhood, or circle the block a couple of times on your Rollerblades?
No need to get warmed up on your own . . . Toss a ball around with your daughter.Challenge your son to a leisurely game of badminton. Pop in your favourite CD of dance tunes and get your spouse up off the couch.
If you can’t convince your family to join the fun, choose an exercise DVD that includes a warm-up or simply has an option for beginners. This will give variety to those first few minutes of exercise. If you’re like me, you bore easily and it’s easier to keep at it if you keep things fresh.
While any of these activities will get your muscles ready for a more strenuous workout, they are good exercise all on their own. If you find a warm-up you particularly enjoy, simply increase the intensity and keep at it for 30 minutes or so. If you do this most days, your muscles will thank you.
So, instead of huddling under that quilt, slip on your exercise clothes and get moving. You’ll warm up quickly—and have lots of energy for the day ahead.