Ways to Warm Up Before Working Out
Published by CONTRAVE Care Team on
Whether you're working out at the gym, running outside, or doing bodyweight movements at home, it's important to take the time to warm up before you start your exercise routine.
Warming up before exercise is important for preparing your body for the physical demands of your workout. It helps increase blood flow to your muscles and gradually increases your heart rate. Warming up also helps reduce the risk of injury by increasing your mobility and flexibility.
It can be tempting to skip the warm-up, but practice patience and commit to keeping yourself safe by kicking off every workout with some light movement. Think of warming up before exercise like pre-heating your oven before baking something (healthy), or starting up your car on a cold winter day. It’s an essential block of time dedicated to gradually preparing for the task ahead.
Here are some different ways to warm up your body before exercising:
- Dynamic stretching: Dynamic stretching involves moving your muscles through a range of motion—think leg swings, arm circles, and lunges. These types of movements can help increase blood flow to your muscles and improve flexibility before a workout.
- Cardiovascular exercise: Performing a light cardiovascular activity, such as walking, jogging, or cycling can help get your heart pumping and blood flowing. This can help to prepare your body for more intense exercise for better performance.
- Foam rolling: Yes, foam rolling counts as a warm-up! Foam rolling is a form of self-massage popular in the fitness community. Rolling your muscles with a foam roller before your workout can help to increase blood flow to your muscles and improve flexibility.
- Specific movements: Don’t pick your warm-up at random. Depending on the type of exercise you'll be doing, it can be helpful to perform some sport-specific movements to warm up your muscles. For example, if you're going to be running, you might warm up by doing some high knees or running in place.
- Yoga: While it can be its own exercise, breaking out yoga flows before a more intense workout can be a great way to warm up. Practicing some gentle yoga poses can help to improve flexibility, balance, and focus. Try downward dog, sun salutations, and warrior poses.
The length and intensity of your warm-up should be relative to the workout you have planned. If you'll be doing a high-intensity workout, make sure to warm up for at least 10 minutes. A lighter workout may only need a few minutes of active stretching. Remember—as always— to listen to your body and adjust your warm-up routine as needed!