Importance of Preparing Your Body to Move

It’s the middle of February and Manitoban’s are in the midst of winter. We bundle in our layers of clothing to keep us warm from our temperatures.  It’s cold, your body is stiff so doing anything that requires us to move is sometimes hard to comprehend because we can’t bear to shed the layers that keep us warm. Before we head out for the day, we start our cars 10-15 minutes before we need to get going from point A to point B. We all know what it’s like when we forget to plug in our car after sitting in -40 weather. We turn the key, cross our fingers and (hopefully) hear the painful noises of our car waking up. We sit shivering, waiting for our car to be ready to drive. Or if you’re really in a rush, you experience the hard turning of the steering wheel and the squeaky brakes against the tires.

When we prepare our bodies to move, it allows our heart rate and blood pressure to slowly rise. Gradual movements help lubricate our joints so they go from feeling stiff to moving more feely with ease.  Just like we need to plug in and warm up our cars in -40 weather, it is important to warm up our bodies before we start to move.

If exercise is fairly new to you or you have not exercised in a while, your body simply isn’t use to the amount of activity you are introducing to your lifestyle. Starting off really intense into your workouts could lead to injury and set you back, often causing pain or discomfort in your body before you have barely started.

What does a warmup look like? What should you do?

Wellness Consultant Jeremy Brooks leading a Stretch Class out on the Gym Floor.

Warm-ups are light and should not be strenuous. You should save more intense exercises for the later parts of your workout. A warmup typically consists of light cardiovascular activity and light dynamic stretching. Light cardio could be a 5 minute walk, bike, row or even marching in place for 30 seconds. Dynamic stretches involves light movements (instead of static stretching; holding a stretch for a period of time) to gradually get our muscles prepared to move. The purpose of the dynamic stretching is to take your joints through a series of movements to prepare our bodies for the similar movements we will do later on in our workouts. Consult your personal trainer to learn some great dynamic stretches that would be right of you and your workouts.

This is what happens to our bodies when we don’t properly prepare ourselves to move. It can become difficult to start our exercise routine because our muscles and joints are stiff and we feel discomfort and sometimes even pain.

If time is factor for you, it is still highly encouraged to not ignore the warmup. Often times when we are rushed to get a workout in, we can be more susceptible to injury because we hop into the movements too quickly. Preventing an injury by taking 5 minutes to warmup is way more worth it in the end rather than cutting your workout short because you have injured yourself. This can often lead to missed workouts later in the week if the injury is severe; further delaying your progress.

Everyone can and should warm up before starting their workouts. It prepares your body to move and sets your body up to be more efficient throughout the rest of your exercise plan. When you decide to exercise, you consciously set that time aside for yourself and for you to take care of your body. Investing a short period to making sure you start it safely should always be a priority.