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Lifestyle Author: June M. Lay, M.S. - Lifestyle Columnist - Last Updated: Sep 7, 2017 - 10:06:33 PM

Start With a Warm Up!

By June M. Lay, M.S. - Lifestyle Columnist -
Jun 3, 2012 - 1:00:16 PM

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( - Start With a Warm Up before going full throttle into exercise, that is! One reason many of us become physically injured is that we dive immediately into (I'm not talking pool here) our sport, exercise session or even a household chore without warming up first! Many times I also hear from people that they don't feel fully energized until they've almost finished their exercises and they ask me why. I usually ask "did you take some time to warm up?"If not, half the exercise session may have served as a warm up! In our last tip we discussed the benefits of strength training, so before we discuss the other components of fitness such as stretching, let's discuss warming up first. Why should we warm up and what do I mean by warming up?

When we warm up, we warm our body temperature. This primes our muscles, tendons and cardio-respiratory system to help us to adapt and prepare for activity. We increase blood flow throughout our body, which enhances movement. Think of a rubber band stretching a lot easier after a few gentle stretches rather than snapping and breaking. Warm muscles and tendons are more pliable after we warm up, which means movement at our joints will be easier with less risk for sprains and muscle strains. Warming up also prepares our body with neuromuscular adaptations through increased blood flow to the areas we plan to focus on during a workout. This allows the smaller blood vessels to dilate, which in turn gives additional time for an increase in oxygen and needed nutrients for energy to optimize performance.

Warming up also allows our heart rate to increase at a safe pace that is less taxing to our heart and hormones! Our blood vessels, lungs and heart adapt to an increased workload more safely with less flight or fight hormones released. This is important for all of us whether we are exercise warriors, or couch potatoes!

How should we warm up?

Our warm up should be geared toward the level of activity we are preparing to engage in. So, if we are about to participate in a high intensity activity, we may need to warm up a bit longer than if we are about to participate in a low intense activity such as a slow paced walk (how difficult is it to get up from the couch and walk to the fridge? Only kidding!).

Warming up should include an activity that increases our heart rate at a steady pace, and allows our body temperature to increase slowly too. Stretching ideally is not an optimal way to warm up because stretching is most effective after our body is warm. Walking, stepping in place, lite jogging, cycling slowly for 10 minutes are all examples of raising our body temperature to prepare for light stretching and/or activity.

Warming up takes longer for beginners, so if we are starting a new exercise program, or exercise infrequently, we may need to take a little longer to gear up. It is also important for those of us who have had a recent, or chronic injury. Perhaps a 10 minute walk, followed by a few calf raises with a gentle stretch is in order before running, if an Achilles tendonitis has been a problem as one example.

Warming up includes warming up specific muscle groups/muscles and the tendons they attach to, which we will use more intensely during exercise. So, for instance, playing tennis? Let's warm up our shoulder muscles with a few light exercises after we warm up our body temperature. Again, we will allow our muscles to make the neuromuscular connections and adapt to prepare for the movement.

Lastly, let's take our cues from professional athletes. When they warm up, they are also warming up their minds to prepare for their sport. After all, "Exercise Requires Focus to be Effective" another motto of mine!

Need some short term "eat -healthier" or "drop a few pounds" or manage a health issue help? Contact me via reply to [email protected] for info on my new Telephonic Health & Weight Loss Coaching program. Individual sessions available as well.

Here's to Warming UP First!

June M. Lay M.S.

The information included here does not replace a physician's recommendations and/or traditional medicine. Please seek your doctor's approval before beginning a new exercise program if any pre-existing medical condition exists or if over 40.

Contact us for information on the new "10-week Personalized Get- in- Shape" Programs by emailing me or go Offered also are "Personal Exercise Only" Programs smartly designed to strengthen, condition, increase flexibility, and more with Ed Irace! Services provided in NYC, and nationally through Skype web service, email and phone when appropriate.

My book "It's NOT a Diet, it's Creative Eating!" available at

Junefit is a supporting organization and member of "Exercise is Medicine" a group of physicians, corporations and governmental agencies managed by the American College of Sports Medicine to advance the cause of Exercise as a medicine. For more info go to:

June is Lifestyle Columnist at

(c) all rights reserved 2012


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