Is warming up really that important? Yes! Whether you already have an established exercise routine that you like, or are just getting started with a new exercise routine, warming up is important to prime your body for physical activity, and also helps in preventing injury.
Warming up adequately is especially important as we age. A proper warm-up should consist of about 10-15 minutes of moderate, yet slowly escalating, physical activity. Important reasons for warming up include to gradually increase your circulation and heart rate, and prepare the body for movements that will be required during the work out. Stretching the muscles also helps to prevent injuries – even lions stretch when they wake up. All of your major joints and muscles should be gently engaged during a warm-up. A warm up helps loosen the joints and increase blood flow to the muscles. Other than that, there are really no rules for warm-ups; they can be done seated or in a standing position, in a gym or even in a swimming pool. A warm-up is anything that gets the blood flowing in a gradual and controlled manner, to get you ready for exercise.
Some specific examples of warm-up activities include easy-paced walking and/or marching on the spot, on a treadmill, or moving around generally. If you like stationary biking, they are ideal for a non-strenuous slow warm-up . Relaxed dancing or chair dancing (while seated) is another fun way to warm-up (e.g. small kicks and toe touches to the front, back and sides). You can also add in some rhythmic, limbering exercises such as heel raises, toe raises, knee lifts, arm reaches, and shoulder lifts and circles. All of your warm-up exercises should include working through a full, pain-free range of motion. As per my last article, always make sure to make any necessary exercise modifications for your safety.
In closing, the warm-up is the first step in any exercise program. There are many different ways to warm-up, so it is easy to pick one that is fun and convenient for you to do! Once you have warmed up, you are ready to exercise and stay active!