Too Tired to Exercise? Try These 5 Warm-up Tips to Get Your Motor Running
My husband and I occasionally work out in a gym.
All too often, I’ll notice other members arrive and quickly grab heavy weights, or head to a machine, or jump into a cardio class — full steam ahead. Typically, they’re soon out of breath, exhausted, and unable to finish their reps or routine.
Why? It all comes down to preparation.
While we all have individual goals to achieve when it comes to exercise, the one fundamental principle of a successful session is the importance of doing a pre-exercise warm-up to stretch our muscles and joints — and prepare our bodies to engage in physical activity.
Unfortunately, I’ve seen more than a few energetic folks neglect to take this healthy step to heart.
Warming up, stretching, and cooling down are necessary components for a successful and complete fitness regimen.
Think of it as prep-work, the same way you’d study for a final exam, or have your car checked out before taking it on the road for a long trip. All require planning to achieve success — and a smooth ride along the way.
Here are 5 easy warm-up moves to stretch your muscles and joints before diving into an aerobics class or weight-lifting session:
1. Rotate your shoulders
Standing straight, lift your arms out to your sides, palms down. Rotate your shoulders forward and backward for 10–12 reps in sequence to loosen the joints and neck muscles. It’s as simple as “turning” your arms in each direction, focusing on the shoulder rotation.
2. Raise your arms above your head
Lift your arms straight up over your head and breath in, holding the breathe for a count of 3–5 seconds. Then slowly exhale while sweeping your arms down to your side in a wide arc, keeping them straight. Repeat for 12 reps.
3. Side bends
Position your feet shoulder-width apart, toes pointing forward. Bend left at the waist, sliding your left hand down the outside of your leg. Reach your right arm up and over your head, and hold for three full breaths.
On an exhale, lift your right arm up and back to your right side as you straighten into the starting position. Repeat for 8–10 reps then change sides. Keep your knees soft for more flexibility.
4. Standing squats
With your feet 14–16 inches apart and toes pointed forward, push your butt back as if you’re going to sit in a chair. Concentrate on engaging the muscles in the back of your upper leg and fold your body forward. Lift your arms and point them straight in front of you at shoulder height. Keep your knees fluid and be careful not to let them shift forward of your toes. Raise up and repeat for 12–16 squats.
5. Forward bends
Standing straight without locking your knees, bend forward from the waist and reach your hands toward the ground. Lift your tailbone and breath in, then exhale for a deeper bend, placing your hands on your calves. Hold the pose for five breaths, feeling your spine lengthen and relax. Bend your knees, fold upright and repeat for 3 more bends.
No time to go to the gym for a full workout?
You have plenty of company, including yours truly.
Fortunately, there are plenty of opportunities to fit exercise into our busy lives that allow us to effectively move our bodies throughout the day.
If you’re at home:
Headed to a store?
Park at the far end of the lot and walk to the entrance. If you’re in a large mall and there are stairs, use them.
If your employer offers an inter-company fitness center or gym membership
Take full advantage. Dedicate a portion of your lunch hour, breaks, or before/after working hours to get in a workout.
No excuses! It’s just as easy to pack a gym bag as it is to prepare a light, nourishing lunch. Put on your exercise shoes and walk to the gym for a warm-up. Skip the elevators and get moving!
Going on a long flight?
Hopefully you’ll have a stop in-between.
Instead of rushing to your connection and sitting during a layover, take your time walking the concourse to stretch your legs. Avoid the “people mover” belts and get the lead out.
Be sure to give yourself enough time to arrive at your gate, and listen for any flight change announcements. Purchase a bottle of water and stay hydrated during your walk.
You get the idea . . .
Stretching and strengthening your body is easy when you take advantage of those moments during your day to get up and move.
You may even begin to notice new ways to physically integrate different types of exercise into completing many of your work projects and daily tasks. For example, standing up at your desk rather than continuously sitting, or doing a set of squats in front of the dryer while folding the towels, or pumping out 30 push-ups while watching Netflix.
Keep in mind when you’re getting ready to exercise — whether in a dedicated fitness center or the workout space in your home —it’s important to prepare yourself by taking the time to warm up your muscles and joints.
You’ll discover a new level of energy, focus, and stamina to keep going!
© 2020 Jill Reid. All Rights Reserved.
5 Reasons Why You’re Not Losing Weight
Tips for getting healthy, staying focused, and looking & feeling great — for the rest of your life.
Discover more tips and strategies for developing a positive mindset and achieving personal success in Real Life
Jill Reid is the author of Real Life, and founder of Pathway to Personal Growth and Kitchen Spirit. Her books and articles explore life, happiness, self-improvement, health, productivity, relationships, and personal success strategies for living longer and stronger through positive lifestyle choices.