Health & Wellness

Wellness Weekend – The Importance of Warming Up

January 20, 2020
Why the Warm-Up phase of your workout is so important.

Wellness Weekend 2020 is a wellness blog link-up series with a monthly theme hosted by Natalie from Natalie the Explorer and Leslie, from Once Upon A Time, Happily Ever After. On the 3rd Sunday of every month in 2020, I will be linking up with these lovely ladies to share a wellness-related story or experience. Don’t forget to check the link up below so you can read their thoughts as well.

The first topic for Wellness Weekend 2020 is Warm-Up.

Why the Warm-Up phase of your workout is so important.

Walking, yoga, swimming, jogging, dancing – all of these activities can cause injury if our bodies and muscles aren’t warmed up properly. Yes, even a simple walk needs some form of warm-up.Since I started officially studying for my Fitness certificate I have been reminded the importance warming up before any form of exercise. I’ve also learned the difference between the various forms of Stretching – static and dynamic being the most common.

The Warm Up phase allows:

  • our muscles to start moving and warm up to avoid injury
  • increases our blood flow to working muscles
  • increases our heart rate gradually to avoid cardiovascular stress
  • improves blood pressure
  • improves Oxygen and Nutrient Uptake
  • improves flexibility

Writing training programs for my course has also reminded me of the importance of both a Warm Up and Cool Down as vital parts of a workout. If I’m at the gym for a workout, I usually start with 5 minutes on the rowing machine which is a good full body warm up and then follow with some dynamic stretches. Other ways are to start an exercise slowly before picking up the pace of in the case of strength training, increasing the weight.

Dynamic Stretches

These should be done before your workout and should consist of movements of the muscles for full range of motion. Unlike static stretches which we hold, dynamic stretches are controlled movement to ‘warm up’ the muscles that we will be using during the workout. Examples of dynamic stretches are: lunges, squats, arm circles. They can also be a good workout if you running short on time.

Don’t forget to the Post Workout Stretch

Static Stretches

These are stretches that are held for 30 – 60 seconds after your workout to help muscle recovery and flexibility. A quick 5 minute stretch is not enough.   A complete exercise program should include at least 15 – 20 minutes of stretching after exercise, with the addition of a one hour yoga or pilates session each week.

Why Stretch?

Stretching not only provides flexibility but it also increases our core strength.  It reduces the risk of injury and also reduces lower back pain.  I have suffered from lower back pain for years but recently did a 30 day challenge of Stretching every day.  My back is no longer painful and I feel great – I even managed to touch my toes two weeks into the challenge!

Harvard medical school Healthbeat suggests:

‘Weak back and abdominal muscles can cause or worsen low back pain. That’s why stretching and strengthening your back and abdominal muscles are important not only for treating low back pain, but also for helping to prevent a recurrence of the problem.’

The importance of stretching as we age

benefits of stretching in midlife

It is a pity that some of us don’t recognise the importance of stretching but it is NEVER TOO LATE TO START!

As we age it is even more important to include stretching into our regular exercise and daily life.  Our joints can become less flexible as we age which will affect our mobility and our balance.

When you Should Stretch?

Stretching is usually done when the muscles are warm after exercise.  Take it gently and STOP if you feel any pain.

Benefits of stretching

Stretching is not just good for your body but as we have seen with exercise it is great for our mental health.

Physically

  • Increased Flexibility
  • Improved Posture
  • Reduces Lower Back Pain
  • Helps prevent loss of mobility as we age
  • Reduces the risk of Injury
  • Reduces stress on muscles used in exercise –

Mentally

  • Brings sense of calm
  • Brings clarity and focus through controlled breathing
  • Decreases stress and tension
  • Increases energy

Even if you are just going for a walk you need to warm up your body to avoid injury.

Do you take the time to warm up before working out?

Do you take time for a post-workout stretch?

Why the Warm-Up phase of your workout is so important.

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24 Comments

  • Reply Natalie January 20, 2020 at 10:16

    Thank you, Sue, for linking up in this Wellness Weekend series. I agree totally with your post. I do warm-up and cool down every time I exercise and also go to 1-hour yoga classes twice a week to stay flexible. It’s a wonderful feeling to be able to do a range of movements without discomfort or pain. Have a beautiful week! #WW2020

  • Reply Debbie Harris January 20, 2020 at 16:54

    Thanks for the great reminders Sue! I really need to stretch more often and your post is very clear and comprehensive advice. You will ace your fitness course!!

  • Reply Laurie January 20, 2020 at 23:49

    Thank you for the wonderful advice! I just finished stretching when I read this post. I am not always great about remembering to stretch, though. Sometimes I am too anxious to just begin the workout, even though I know the warm-up is an important part.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric January 27, 2020 at 06:38

      Hi Laurie, pre and post workout stretching can easily be glossed over but it is amazing the difference taking a few moments to warm up makes to our workout. The post workout stretch just makes our bodies sing and rounds off the workout perfectly. Thanks for stopping by and have a great week. x

  • Reply suzanne vosbikian January 21, 2020 at 06:26

    Sue, as a tennis player, warm up exercises are essential. Tennis is a start and stop game with sudden movements that can cause serious injury, so I take my stretching routine seriously. On the other hand, I am very neglectful of the post game stretch. Thanks for the reminder that that is equally as important.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric January 27, 2020 at 06:40

      Hi Suzanne, I believe many of us aren’t as disciplined with the post workout stretching. It is easy to finish the workout and then rush off but taking a few moments to stretch does wonders not only for our flexibility but also our muscle recovery. x

  • Reply Erica/Erika January 21, 2020 at 12:58

    Interesting post, Sue. I was wondering whether you gleaned some additional information on warming up with your recent studies. I do some warm up stretches and no post workout stretch. Something new I will incorporate. Stretching increasing core strength is new information for me, too. Great post!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric January 27, 2020 at 06:56

      Hi Erica, I’ve known about warming up and cooling down but haven’t always put it into practice. Now that I am teaching others I can see the importance and it is a good reminder for me. I’m so pleased you found some new information to incorporate into your life so that you body just feels wonderful and flexible. Have a great week, my friend and thanks for stopping by. x

  • Reply Candi Randolph January 21, 2020 at 21:39

    Hi Sue, this is a wonderful and essential reminder of the importance and value of pre and post workout warm ups and cool downs. I’ve done better with the pre-workout stretches and starting out slowly. You’ve nudged me about the post-workout stretches and I will make a commitment to myself to do those! xo

    • Reply Sue Loncaric January 27, 2020 at 06:58

      Hi Candi, from the comments I’ve received it appears that most of us are good at warming up but neglect our important post workout stretches. They really do help muscle recovery and our flexibility. I know your body will feel so good if you incorporate some post-workout stretches – it makes the workout complete. x

  • Reply Leslie Susan Clingan January 21, 2020 at 23:46

    So happy to have you join us for Wellness Weekend. I think this theme must have been chosen with me in mind as I am the most reluctant “warmer-upper.” I tend to just jump up and run, or lift weights without giving my body a little time to prepare! A recent bout of sciatica sent me to physical therapy where I learned some very good stretches and have become a warm-up advocate. As always, your post is so informative. Thank you for these great points.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric January 27, 2020 at 07:00

      Hi Leslie, yes it is great to be back joining you and Natalie this year. Sometimes it does take an injury or pain to prompt us to change our habits and I know from experience warming up gives me a better workout and post-workout stretches help keep my body flexible and my muscle recovery. Look forward to next month’s post although I don’t do Hiking I’ll have to find a trail and try it. x

  • Reply Samantha Smith January 23, 2020 at 00:40

    I try to stretch every day Sue, it’s so very important, as your posts explains. If for some reason I don’t manage to do ,my yoga or basic stretching I feel tight and ache. I can’t imagine not ever stretching. Great post Sue!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric January 27, 2020 at 06:52

      Hi Sam! Over the last few years I’ve really tried to stretch every day. As we age our body does lose it’s flexibility so easily and I find that especially my hip flexors are very tight because I run. I love my yoga but even a quick 5 minute stretch can make such a difference. Have a great week! x

  • Reply Joanne January 23, 2020 at 05:56

    I have been adding an entire stretching workout to my regime to try and increase my flexibility too; I’ve noticed that as I’ve aged I’ve lost of my flexibility training.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric January 27, 2020 at 06:50

      That is a great idea Joanne. Our flexibility is something that we can lose so easily as we age. I find that regular yoga practice plus pre and post gym workout stretches has made such a difference to my body. Thanks for stopping by and have a beautiful week. x

  • Reply Donna Connolly January 23, 2020 at 08:08

    HI, Sue – I wish that I had read this post years ago! It has taken me a long time to understand the importance (and the power) of stretching both before and after a workout. I now NEVER leave this out!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric January 27, 2020 at 06:48

      I hear you Donna, as I haven’t always understand the importance of stretching. Now I find that the pre stretch helps me focus and the post stretch helps my mind relax as well as keeping my body flexible. xx

  • Reply Leanne | www.crestingthehill.com.au January 23, 2020 at 11:26

    Im not much of an energetic exerciser or a stretcher Sue, but I know that Ross is very diligent in doing stretches before he runs – he’s actually strained his Archilles tendon a few months ago – due to tight calf muscles and is really struggling with maintaining his fitness – it’s amazing what one small injury can do to our overall wellbeing.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric January 27, 2020 at 06:47

      Hi Leanne, I think that even just getting up each morning and doing a few stretches really helps our flexibility especially as we age. We don’t have to be fitness fanatics but a daily stretch just feels good. Maybe you should try it each morning for 5 minutes. It really helps my lower back pain and any other aches I might be feeling. x

  • Reply Min @ Write of the Middle January 23, 2020 at 14:41

    Hi Sue, I think I’m a bit out of touch with all things bloggy as I didn’t know about wellness weekend. I’ll have to get familiar with it. As for stretching…I LOVE STRETCHES! We do plenty of them at Reformer Pilates – a whole lot before we start and then more at the end to finish and they feel so good. I need to remember to do some stretches and warm ups when I go walking though! xo #TeamLovinLife

    • Reply Sue Loncaric January 27, 2020 at 06:45

      Hi Min, I only saw an email in passing a few weeks ago about Wellness Weekend but it is the 3rd Sunday of the month if you are interested. I love stretching too, my body always feels so good afterwards and of course it helps my flexibility. My running friends go to Reformer Pilates and enjoy it. I hope to do it one day but at the moment not sure when I could fit it in! x

  • Reply Nancy Dobbins February 4, 2020 at 23:01

    Hi Ladies,
    Thanks for reminding me of the importance, especially, of stretching. It’s so important when exercising, but super important for keeping balance and flexibility as we age.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 5, 2020 at 05:22

      Stretching is certainly under rated Nancy and I know if I take the extra time and do a yoga practice regularly my flexibility, balance and strength certainly improve. My body feels strong and healthy. xx

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