When I'm teaching group fitness classes and someone joins the class late, I cringe a little. Not because they are late, I'm glad they came no matter what time! I cringe because they missed the warm up. Warming up before you exercise is so important!
A good warm up will gradually increase your heart rate and increase circulation to your muscles, tendons and ligaments. This helps prevent injury. Don't confuse a warm up with stretching. The warm up prepares your body for what is to come. It should be dynamic, that is, not holding a movement like you would when you stretch. Stretching focuses on specifically lengthening your muscles. Your muscles need to be warm before you can stretch optimally so you need to warm up before you stretch!
A warm up can consist of walking, marching or jogging in place and dynamic stretches (i.e. Arm circles). Doing this for 5 - 10 minutes before your workout can help prevent injury by warming up your muscles and making your tendons and ligaments more flexible helping to prevent tears.
I took the picture above at the end of my run this morning and posted it to Instagram. While I was running, I was thinking about how sometimes a workout seems so effortless and then there are other days when it feels like I can't do it at all. This past week I hurt my arm and didn't lift for the rest of the week. I felt awful and it was difficult to complete my workouts the rest of the week (even without the weights). If I'm not teaching a class, I tell myself to try for at least 10 minutes and if I'm still not feeling well, I can stop. However, I still tend to beat myself up about it.
Despite your fitness level, everyone is going to have those off days. It could be because of a million different reasons; what you ate, what you did or didn't drink, what the weather is, what your mental state is, what your immune system is dealing with, what kind of sleep you got the past few nights...and on and on. Even though I know this, I still get frustrated by any tough times. It should be getting easier all the time right? If I can run 3 miles one day, why do I feel like stopping after 1 mile two days later? Yes, we should be seeing positive effects from consistent workouts and we should be able to do more as we continue to exercise. However, there are just always going to be those days when it is rough.
The trick, I think, is to give yourself some grace, take care of yourself and get back to it another day. Even if it is hard to remember, this is one of the things running has taught me, somedays are more difficult than others but that doesn't mean to quit. Listen to your body, take a rest day or two if you need to and know that when you get back at it, you will have one of those workouts that feel so great!
Having a hard time mustering up the energy to get a workout in? I know it sounds strange but exercising gives you more energy! The more you do, the more you will feel like doing. Barring any medical issues, or being tired due to working out too much, you should get that activity in even if you would much rather crash on the couch.
One study looked at healthy, sedentary people who began exercising three days a week for just 20 minutes a day at either moderate or low intensity. By the end of six weeks, their energy levels were 20 percent higher than those of a control group of non exercisers. Exercise scientists attribute this to an increase in hormones like adrenaline which allow you to have more blood flowing to your large muscle groups and tells your body to ignore feelings of fatigue.
I've talked about the many, many benefits of regular exercise before. Here is yet another reason to get moving at least a few times a week. It will give you more energy!