Wow, what a wacky, wintery week filled with freezing, frigid, and face-numbing weather. The recent weather that we’ve been dealing with made me think how difficult it can be to stay warm during these long, cold winter days. Then I got to thinking, there are plenty of ways to keep warm if you keep moving!
Now, I know that you’re probably thinking, “I could just turn up my thermostat if I’m cold.” True, but when you’re talking fitness and health-related goals, that thermostat won’t help you (and it will be cheaper than cranking up the heat). What will help you is shocking: movement! Your muscles require energy to move. During the metabolic process of using energy, one of the by-products is heat. Therefore, the more you move, the warmer you get.
During the next few posts I’ll try to share with you some of the ways I know to keep moving and keep warm while you’re stuck in your home . One such topic I’d like to address is a “warm-up” (pun intended) before a workout.
There are several parts to a good warm-up. One is dynamic (movement-based) stretching. Dynamic stretches are great to do not only before exercise, but as a break from sitting at your desk if you are working from home. The more we sit, it does terrible things to our posture. Bad posture can lead to muscle tightness, and tight muscles can lead to injury or pain. Dynamic stretches get you up and moving, and also gets your muscles and joints working through their normal range of motion. The next time you are stuck sitting for a long time, check your posture every once in a while. You'd be surprised at what muscles you are working and, more importantly, which ones you aren't!
Light strength-based exercises are great as a warm-up. By "light" I mean just bodyweight exercises that expand the range of motion that your joints have been in. Good examples of bodyweight warm-up exercises are squats, lunges, and bridges. Strength exercises prepare the tissues for the load and force they'll need to handle for our workout. We also choose strength exercises as a warm-up because they get blood flowing to our muscles and they help "wake up" our nervous system. If you're stuck at home, these strength exercises will give you a chance to activate muscles you otherwise wouldn't while sitting a desk. The nice thing about strength exercises is there are so many options to choose from that you would never get bored with all the combinations you can do!
Light plyometric work is a great way to get the nervous system and muscles on the same page. This one is more essential for a pre-workout routine, but still applicable to warm yourself up on these cold days (again, it gets you up and moving!). We want all of our muscle fibers working efficiently and effectively. If they aren't, we are doomed to have a submaximal effort in our workouts. As it pertains to staying warm at home, being active and moving those muscles generates heat. Two light plyometric exercises I recommend and use frequently are butt-kickers and high-knees, but there are dozens of exercises just like them that will do the trick.
During these cold days, stay active and stay warm! Next time I'll touch on a few ways to remain active (and warm) at home while expanding your general flexibility. When you come out the other side of spring this year, you'll be limber and loose instead of tight and tense.
If you’d like help setting and achieving your health and wellness goals, please contact Jack Zahn at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up an appointment.