A proper warmup goes a long way when it comes to making exercise more enjoyable and avoiding exercise-induced injuries. It’s even more beneficial as we get older and our joints require a bit more ‘coaxing’ before they move fluidly through the entire range of motion they’re supposed to.
Yet many of us rush our warmups, hopping on a treadmill for a few minutes, anxious to get to the ‘meat’ of our workout (and be finished and out of the gym sooner).
The best warmups start slowly and end up being almost indistinguishable from the workout itself. (Just ask my Bootcamp class if they can pinpoint the moment we shift from warming up to working out; I bet they can’t 😉 ).
Read through the list of pre-workout warmup benefits below and join me in a real-time warmup by clicking the video link that follows.
Benefits of a pre-workout warmup for midlife exercisers?
- gradually increasing your breathing rate. Lungs provide oxygen to your muscles. During exercise, muscles increase their demand for oxygen. Gradually increasing your breathing rate will allow you to continue meeting your body’s oxygen demand without the premature accumulation of lactic acid. ‘Feeling the burn’ is great, but not at the beginning of your workout…
- increasing blood flow to your muscles. Blood carries oxygen from your lungs to your muscles. In order to meet their increased demand for oxygen, blood flow must increase as well. Rhythmic, low intensity movements stimulate the increased flow of blood to muscles and extremities.
- elevating your heart rate. Your heart serves to pump oxygenated blood from your lungs to the rest of your body. An elevated heart rate is often the most obvious sign that your body is starting to work a bit harder (a light sheen of perspiration is another). Aim to increase your heart rate to 60-65% of your heart rate maximum by the end of your warmup.
- increasing the temperature of your muscles (especially important in cool weather). Warm muscles are more efficient at contracting than cold muscles. They’re also less likely to be injured. I’ll do just about anything to prevent repeating past injuries, you know?
- lubrication of your joints. As you begin to move, your brain signals the release of synovial fluid within your joints. This fluid acts like a lubricant, allowing the joints to move more smoothly and through an increasingly larger range of motion. You may notice that it takes a bit longer to warm up those joints now, in midlife, than it did when you were younger…
- enhancing proprioception and kinesthetic awareness. Proprioception is the body’s awareness of where it is in space. It’s a fundamental requirement of strength training, particularly when you’re performing single-sided and balance exercises.
- rehearsing the movements that you’ll be performing during the workout itself. Performing body weight versions of the exercises you’ll be doing during your workout proper is a great way to prepare your body for the work to come. Not only does it help to create a mind-to-muscle connection, it also gently stretches the muscles and ligaments around the joint, thereby reducing the likelihood of injury.
Try this real-time warmup with me before your next strength workout (or if you’re entirely new to exercise, let it BE your workout 🙂 ).
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