If you watch professional sports you will notice that the athletes warm up like crazy. They roll around, stretch, scrimmage, practice throwing, get the footwork going, and on and on.
And…get this…before Tiger Woods pulled out a win at the Master’s Tournament this year, he reportedly (by his own admission) woke up at 3:45 AM to get ready for his 9AM (ish) tee time. To get his body ready. AND HIS MIND. I guess it worked!
Now, admittedly there is a lot more at stake for professional athletes. Like staying on top of their game, not getting injured, and making sure they come out of the gate ready to go.
But what about the rest of us? Without any pressure to perform, how many of us actually bother to warm up? After all, it adds time to the workout. It may feel like time taken away from actually exercising. Or even sleeping for an extra ten minutes.
For those of us who have to pull ourselves up by the bootstraps to work out some days, a warm up can make all the difference. That’s because the mental aspects of a warm up are just as important as the physical. Here’s three of them.
Let’s say you are dreading your workout, or even just on the fence about it.
Knowing that you have a warm up in your back pocket can help you talk yourself into it. You can even say to yourself that you will “just do the warm up” and then skip the workout.
This is not all bad! In fact, it’s an excellent tactic for staying engaged with the concept of moving!
But often “just doing the warm up” can lead to a few exercises, and then a few more, and a few more.
Another benefit is that it gets you in touch with how creaky you actually are. This can be revealing and motivating. Now, if you are NOT creaky, great! I just have a feeling that so many of us sit a lot and don’t exactly have active jobs, that creakiness comes with the territory. Even people who stand up or move around a lot get creaky if what they do involves a lot of repetitive movement.
In this case, warming up can get the cobwebs out, set your posture and alignment back to a good place, and (woo hoo) help you feel more energetic. It might even clear your mind and get you ready to do something physical.
SIDEBAR: Many times advice given to dieters is to move around a bit, go for a walk, or even just to get up for a drink of water. This would be in place of reaching for a candy bar or other food that is perceived to give a you boost. So, an important dieting tool can be replacing food with what is actually a warm up!
This is a little physiological. The bottom line with a warm up is circulation. You could think of it this way…when you sit a lot, maybe your mind is working, but your body isn’t. Don’t get me wrong. Working your mind is great. But, your body needs blood circulating with oxygen and nutrients in it to keep you going. In order to “get going” more, and give your body what it needs, you need to kick it up a notch. Basically, that’s why exercise feels so good.
So, you can think of a warm up as doing wonders for your circulation, thereby nourishing your body! When you warm up, you are moving into a different mode. On top of that, you are preparing your body to move more, taking away the shock of jumping into something cold. How many people have quit exercise because it’s just too hard? Well, a good warm up can take care of that. It can actually make what follows feel so much better AND help you lift more, go faster, or move better without you even realizing it.
What to do for a warm up?
You can do an easy pace on a cardio machine at the gym or walk at a moderate pace for 10 minutes.
You can pick up some light weights (even soup cans will do) and do some bicep curls, press ups and side raises while walking in place for 5 or 10 minutes.
Without weights, you can do some high stepping, arm circles, shoulder shrugs, wall push-ups, alternate reaching to touch a chair or bench, or even pretend you are trying to use a hula hoop.
Hint: Do things and motions that are much different from what you do all day. The idea here is to move in new directions! Think it through and design a warm up for yourself that feels good, gets you going, and gets the kinks out, but gently.
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