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Life in Motion

Improve Your Pre-Workout Routine

Sports & Exercise

If you’ve been sticking to your New Year’s resolution of incorporating exercise into your regular routine, it’s important to make sure that you do so safely. Whatever kind of athletic activity you like to participate in, you should warm up before you exercise. Warming up is crucial in preventing injuries and in overall safety while exercising. When you warm up your muscles, you allow them to perform at their greatest range of motion; when you slowly raise your heart rate, you minimize the stress that exercise puts on your heart. Bryan Truscott, LATC, CSCS, an athletic trainer at NEBH, explains the anatomy of a good warm up and suggests some activities you might do before you exercise.

A warm-up should consist of light cardiovascular activity and stretching to slowly raise your body’s temperature and increase your heart rate. Dynamic stretching, which requires you to move through a range of motion as you stretch, should make up the majority of your warm-up. Dynamic stretching engages the muscles you will use as you exercise in a way that mirrors the actual movement you will perform in your workout. It not only warms up your body, but it also provides long-term benefits such as improved range of motion and flexibility, increased body awareness, and greater muscular strength.  Here are some dynamic warm-up exercises that you can perform before you exercise:

Mountain Climbers
From a push-up or plank position, bring one knee toward your stomach and then quickly alternate legs, as if you were climbing up a mountain, for 60 seconds.

High Knees
As you run in place, lift your knees high so that they are about parallel to the floor, for 60 seconds.

Jumping Jacks
Complete 50 jumping jacks to engage your core, arms, and legs.

Jump Rope
Jumping rope at a quick pace for 2-3 minutes is a good way to raise your heart rate before intensive exercise.

These warm-up exercises and dynamic stretches will provide you with a good starting point for a general warm-up, but you should also select ones that will activate the specific muscles you’ll be using in your workout. For example, if you’re playing soccer, walking lunges will mirror your lunge for the ball; if you’re a runner, knee to chest stretches where you bring your knee to your chest as you walk forward will mimic the muscle movement at the top of your stride. Work with a coach, personal trainer, or an athletic trainer to design a warm-up routine suitable for your exercise or sport.

Particularly in the winter, when your muscles are especially tight due to the cold weather, it’s important to warm up before you workout. Whether you’re preparing for a game or hopping on a treadmill, remember to warm up before you exercise to make sure your body benefits from your workout and that you protect yourself from injury.

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