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HOW TO WARM UP AND AVOID INJURY

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Ever start a workout feeling a bit foggy, only to get that “second wind” at about 15 to 20 minutes into it?  While this pick-me-up is what attracts many people to exercise in the first place, you’d ideally reach it before the workout begins by performing a solid warm up session.  That way, not only will you be burning more calories, you’ll be maximizing your workout potential.  

 The Benefits of Warming Up

Sometimes warming up seems like a waste.  When pressed for time, it’s easier to just jump right in to your workout.  After all, running harder for longer burns more calories, right?  But remember, exercising is only healthy if you do it in a healthy way.  By warming up, you:
  • Prevent injury by increasing your muscle temperature.  This thereby increases your range of motion and overall flexibility, reducing the chance of muscle strains and pulls.
  • Prevent overheating by activating your body’s heat-dissipation mechanisms.   Though your blood temperature increases, this makes oxygen more available to your muscles.  You can also expect a higher endurance level as a result.
  • Trigger carbohydrates and fatty acids ready for energy use.  This helps you to burn fat more efficiently.
  • Lessen the stress that exercise causes on the heart by dilating your blood vessels and increasing blood flow.

How to Warm Up

An efficient warm up mostly depends on what type of workout you plan to do.  Many people at the gym warm up on a treadmill to increase their heart rate.  While this is better than nothing, this really only serves an efficient warm up if you’re exercising your legs. You want to prime your muscles by using moves that are similar to what you’ll be working on that day.  But there are parts of your body that you’ll always want to warm up on any given day: chest, core, hips, shoulders, thighs, and glutes. There are no hard-and-fast rules about a pre-workout routine. Certainly, you don't want your warm up to be more challenging than your actual workout. Make sure you clock it in at under ten minutes but not less than five. If you're lifting weights, you won't want to exert too much unnecessary energy by over-performing in your warm up.  It’s best to start at your own level with exercises such as jumping jacks, pushups, body weight squats and lunges, arm swings, trunk rotations, and shoulder rotations.  Perform one to two sets of each.  Light resistance bands and jump ropes are also useful tools. Note: Static stretching should not be included in your warm up routine.  It’s ideal for cooling down after the workout.

What types of warm up routines get you ready for a solid workout?

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