With holiday shopping, holiday budgeting, and guests coming to town, it’s easier than ever to let your workout routine fall by the wayside. But be aware! With holiday eating in the mix, it’s more crucial than ever to keep hitting your local gym so you make sure you stay on top of your fitness for the 2018 season.
Seem like a stretch to keep fitness goals reachable? Here’s a few stretches you can do before and after your workout to maximize your effective time at the gym. They can keep you limber and flexible, increase circulation, and (perhaps most importantly of all) burn off stress and keep your mind centered.
Before your workout, signal to your body that it’s time to go to work with simple warm-ups and stretches that kick your nervous system into gear while raising your body temperature and heart rate. Do some jumping jacks, jog, or ride a bike on low resistance.
Next, engage in dynamic stretching. Dynamic stretching means stretching to warm your muscles without holding a pose (which is commonly called static stretching). Walking lunges, arm circles, touching your toes and reaching for the sky, mountain climbers, and other similar exercises increase your range of motion and help prepare you for cardio workouts and strength training alike.
All right, you’ve done your warm-up stretches and completed your workout; now it’s time to cool down. It can be tempting to skip straight to the locker room, but don’t! Just as warming up fires up your nervous system and heart rate, cooling down will bring them back to normal and increase your flexibility.
Unlike dynamic warm-up stretches, cool-down stretches should be static: hold your poses for no less than 10 seconds each. Classics like the figure 4 stretch, the butterfly, the reclining twist, and child’s pose will help regulate blood flow, prevent injury, and improve your muscles’ elastic capabilities.
If you have any more questions about incorporating stretching into your fitness routine, just ask any of the instructors or staff at your local gym. We’re always ready to be your Fitness Connection.