The importance of a good warmup before exercising

It’s no secret that many of us stopped exercising once the pandemic hit. Gyms closed and we were home schooling, or trying new recipes, cleaning out closets or binge-watching Netflix. Whatever the reason, working out or even getting in some mild physical activity fell way down on the to-do list.

Well, time is up. Gyms have reopened, and many of us are finding our pants are a bit snugger. Let’s get back to moving. It’s time to improve our overall health and wellness — and hopefully prevent chronic ailments. Just remember to be smart when starting your exercise routine.

“Whatever your exercise level, it’s important to follow an evidence-based workout plan to ensure you are not only gaining the most out of every workout, but are exercising safely and consistently,” said Christopher J. Cordero, a physical therapist and board-certified clinical specialist in orthopedic physical therapy with HNH Fitness in Oradell. HNH is a medically-based fitness center for real people, who work hard and want extra help and guidance to get started and stay in a fitness program.

Let’s remember, the benefits of exercising go well beyond a trimmer waist and sculpted biceps. Exercise helps improve the cardiovascular system, boost the immune system, stave off or reduce the effects of depression and anxiety, and even enhance cognitive abilities.

To get the most out of your exercise routine, make sure you do an effective warmup before every workout.

“Warming up is one of the most important components of any successful exercise routine,” Cordero said. “As the term implies, it’s the action of increasing core body temperature.”

Warming up assists in elevating the heart rate, increasing blood circulation, enhancing the ability of muscles to extend and contract, and preparing the mind and body to perform the subsequent workout at an optimal level. All of these qualities of a proper warmup are critical in the prevention of injury.

An effective warmup should begin in a state of lower intensity, slowly transitioning to a higher intensity as you approach your main workout. Your warmup should last anywhere between 5-20 minutes and should be just as unique as the workout you are about to perform. For example, someone participating in yoga should warm up differently than a football player preparing for the start of the game.

There are generally two types of warmup routines, which can be adapted for your own personal needs.

The first type is a cardio/endurance warmup. It can include a walk, jog or run, a bike, elliptical stair/step or climber machine, a rower or upper body ergometer. This type of warmup is the most common and is an effective way of increasing circulation throughout the entire body, while gradually elevating the heart rate.

The second type is a dynamic warmup, which can be done in open space, with cones, an agility ladder or resistance bands. This form of warmup is typically associated with athletes preparing for competition, but anyone can use it. It is a collection of total body, coordinated movements intended to activate the neuromuscular system — nerves and muscles — and achieve the optimal range of motion throughout the spine, hips and shoulders. Some examples of this are the body weight squats and lunges, plank variations, and using banded loops.

“At the completion of the warmup, your body should be prepared to perform at an optimal level, while simultaneously preventing injury during the rigors of an intense workout,” Cordero said. “Now is the time to get started — don’t delay getting your health back on track.”

Christopher J. Cordero, PT, DPT, OCS, is a physical therapist and board-certified specialist in orthopedic physical therapy by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties of the American Physical Therapy Association. Dr. Cordero practices at HNH Fitness and trains athletes of all ages and abilities with a focus on implementing evidence-based injury prevention techniques and developing proper body mechanics.

Call to schedule an appointment at 201-265-1076. HNH Fitness is located at 514 Kinderkamack Road in Oradell.