Ease Back Into Exercise
If you’re going to exercise for the first time in a while, your underused muscles may not be ready for too much shock or strain. For that reason, it is essential that you warm up, stretch, and ease into exercise – if you don’t, you risk injury, which would set you back in your schedule, not to mention hurting a lot.
So, it makes sense for you to stretch and activate the muscles you’re going to be using in whatever exercise you decide to do.
For example, if you’re going for a walk, then to prepare yourself, start by taking a few nice, deep breaths to bring air into your lungs and get your rib cage moving, stretching and relaxing the small muscles in your chest.
Then, gently and slowly raise one knee, holding onto something to steady yourself if necessary, stretching your lower back and leg. Rotate your foot at the ankle in both directions, then point your toes and lift them, putting your foot through all ranges of motion before coming to a neutral position. Repeat this routine on the other side.
Bend forward gently and slowly, only as far as it’s comfortable, and if you can, let your arms dangle. Feel the stretch in the backs of your legs and calves. Keep your knees as straight as you can without hurting.
Carefully straighten up, put your hands on your hips, and bend gently and slowly from side to side, only as far as it’s comfortable, loosening up your torso. You should find that after a few repetitions it gets easier and you can bend farther. Don’t overdo it.
Bend slightly backward, only to a point of comfort. Relax your arms and shoulders back, and feel the stretch in your chest and abdomen. Carefully straighten up to a neutral position, and then rotate your body clockwise and counterclockwise, gently twisting your body, letting your arms swing freely with your rotation. Don’t overdo it, just feel your body loosening up with the gentle twisting motion.
All of this stretching prepares your muscles, your breathing and your circulation to start your exercise. It reduces foot and leg injuries, energizes your core and relaxes your lower back. Finish up by taking several slow, deep breaths, and you’ll feel ready to begin your exercise.
If something feels like it needs to be stretched, warmed up, or left alone, listen to your body. Don’t push too hard at any point in your early exercise. When you are in proper shape, there will be times when you may exercise very, very intensely – but not until you warm up properly, and not until you get into suitable condition to handle such aggressive movement. It’s great for you, but only when you are up to it.
Whatever exercise you prefer, be sure to get your body ready so you don’t hurt yourself, which would mess up your exercise for days, weeks or longer. Develop a good warm-up routine, and you’ll get the best results!