To many people, staying indoors and effectively hibernating until spring is the best way to get through the winter. However, while that might sound like a good idea, it’s not the best idea for your health. The truth is that winter exercise is a great idea. There are so many benefits to staying active, including maintaining a healthy body weight, lowering your risk of certain illnesses, improving your mood and much more. However, in winter, you need to increase the amount of time you spend on warm up. After all, cold winter temperatures make muscles tighter, so injuries are more common. Plus, your body doesn’t perform as well when your muscles are cold. If you want to reduce the risk of injury and boost your performance, be sure to spend time stretching and warming up. Here are a few tips:
- WARMING UP: One of the most important parts of a warm-up is, of course, getting warm. As mentioned, cold muscles perform worse and are at a greater risk of injury. This is especially true during the cold winter months. In general, a warm-up should be at least 15 minutes long and done at a lower intensity than a workout. After all, it’s the warm-up, not the actual exercise. However, you’ll want to increase your heart rate and warm up your muscles. Start slowly and gradually pick up speed as you warm up. Effective warm up exercises include leg kicks (walk forward slowly kicking your heels towards your glutes), body rotations (rotate your hips and upper body, first clockwise and then counter clockwise), arm circles (circle your arms around and from one side to the other. Make sure to breathe deeply), jumping jacks/jumping rope (these are great exercises to get your blood pumping and your muscles warm), lunges (walk forward with a long stride, drop your back leg to the ground and bend so that your knee stays over your ankle) and squats (hold your hands in front of you, keep your back straight and then bend your knees, lowering yourself while using your abdominal muscles to keep yourself steady).
- STRETCHING: It’s important to understand the difference between static stretching and dynamic stretching. Static stretching is stretching to the point of tension (but not pain), stopping and holding the stretch for a few moments before relaxing. The stretch position is held without any other movement. In general, most static stretches are held for between 15 and 30 seconds. Dynamic stretching involves repeatedly moving your muscles and joints through a full range of motion. These stretches are meant to mimic the motions that your body goes through while exercising. As for what type of stretching you should do, it depends on the types of exercise you’re doing as well as your personal fitness situation. However, some studies have shown that there are greater benefits to doing dynamic stretching before you exercise and static stretching afterwards. Whatever type of stretching you choose to do, it’s important that you do it. Take at least ten minutes to stretch your entire body (back, shoulders, hamstrings, quadriceps, etc.).
If you need help with developing an effective warm up and stretching routine, please don’t hesitate to give us a call. Remember, at Physiomed…Healthier Starts Here.