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September 30, 2018: Better Warm-ups

My weekly Get Your Stuff Together Sunday email series gives you one actionable focus for the week that will make your life a little easier.

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If you watch sports, you've probably noticed how athletes will shoot or throw a few balls, run a lap, or stretch it out before a game. A warm-up prepares your body for the intense activities about to take place because cold muscles are more vulnerable to injury - this can happen to us at any age or fitness level, too. This week, we’re talking about creating better warm-ups that prepare your body for exercise and prevent injury.

Ugh, can’t I just skip the warm-up?

Nope. A good warm-up is just as beneficial as the workout itself. Warming up increases your circulation gradually and helps pump oxygen-rich blood to the muscles making them more pliable. It readies your heart to avoid a rapid increase in blood pressure, and increases the amount of oxygen and nutrients that reach your muscles and help prevent you from huffing and puffing later on. You should warm up before any strength training, aerobic exercise, and even more intense stretching. Yes, every time!

Fine. What is it?

Warm ups are a lower impact, less intense version of the activity you're about to do. If you're getting ready to run, go for a walk first. Thinking about taking a long ride on a stationary bike? Warm up with a slow mile. Light weights are a great way to warm up for strength training exercises, and a light stair climb is a good one for any kind of exercise.

What about stretching?

On the opposite end of the spectrum, stretching should be part of your cool down. It's not harmful to do pre-work out, and stretching first thing in the morning actually helps increase flexibility, but if you stretch before a workout it should be after the warm up.

Lactic acid builds up in the muscles when you work out leading to sore and exhausted muscles. Stretching post workout reduces muscle fatigue and increases blood circulation. It helps with recovery and prevents injury. Stretching afterwards is good for mental health, too. Breathing through a stretch calms your mind and relaxes your body.

Warm-up ideas

Establishing a warm-up habit has major health and mental benefits and is the best way to prevent injuries and ensures you'll continue on your path. Here are some ideas to get you ready for your exercise session:

  • 2-3 minutes of jump rope

  • 20 jumping jacks

  • 20 bodyweight squats

  • 5 lunges per leg

  • Body rotations for your limbs, shoulders, hips, and neck

  • 30 seconds of alternating knee hugs: 30 seconds

  • Jogging in place, butt kicks, and high knees for 30 seconds each

Next Sunday, we’ll talk about what food you can eat to keep your brain healthy and functioning well so you can stay at the top of your game.

Do you have a friend who could stand to G(her)ST? Feel free to forward this!

I hope you have a wonderful week,


Kelly Morgan, Ph.D.

Tsirona -

My weekly GYSTS email give you one actionable thing to do for the week that will make you life a little easier. As "they" say, "Fail to plan; plan to fail." Get these emails (and more!) delivered right to your inbox by clicking HERE.