Did you know that spending at least 5 minutes warming up and cooling down before and after aerobic exercise can help prevent injury and post workout muscle soreness; and make your exercise more effective.
Read on for our simple 5 minute warm-up and cool down exercises suitable for mums of all fitness levels.
The science behind a warm-up
Doing a warm-up prepares your heart, lungs, and muscles for the more strenuous phase of exercise.
As your muscle temperature increases, warm muscles both contract more forcefully and relax more quickly, reducing the risk of over-stretching a muscle and causing injury.
The higher temperatures and increased blood flow resulting from a warm-up are important for delivery of oxygen to the muscles and for prevention of build-up of unwanted waste products which can lead to muscle soreness.
At The Healthy Mummy we take your health and wellbeing seriously which is why we recommend at least 5-10 minutes of warm up prior to any exercise.
Here is a simple plan that you can follow:
Simple 5-minute warm-up
Fast marching (1 minute)
Standing on the spot, start off with some fast marching. Swing your arms as you go. If you need a little more (lift your knees higher as you march to elevate heart rate).
Torso rotations (40 seconds)
Keep your feet hip width apart and rotate your body and arms from the waist up keeping hips facing forward.
Heel digs (1 minute)
Standing tall, alternate pushing feet forward as you dig your heel into the ground. Move arms forward and backwards at the same time.
Squats (1 minute, 20 sec)
Stand with your feet just over shoulder width apart, tuck your tailbone under. Keeping your back in a neutral position and your knees centre over your feet.
Slowly bend your knees, hips and ankles, lowering until you reach a 90-degree angle. Return to starting position and repeat. Remember to breathe in as you lower, breathe out as you return to starting position. For added impact reach your arms out forward and back as you go.
Lateral spine stretch (1 minute)
Stand with your feet slightly apart and raise your left hand over your head. Exhale and slowly lean your torso to your right while pushing your hips to your left to increase the stretch. Hold the stretch for one deep breath and return to the starting position. Raise your right arm over your head and repeat the stretch on the opposite side.
By moving your torso side to side in a gentle, rhythmic manner, you can increase spine mobility in this plane of motion.
Why is cooling down after a workout important?
Cooling down after your workout allows for a gradual recovery of pre-exercise heart rate and blood pressure.
After any aerobic activity, the blood is pooled in the extremities, and the heartrate is elevated. The purpose of the cool-down is to bring the heartrate down to near-normal and to get the blood circulating freely back to the heart. Stopping abruptly could result in fainting or place undue stress on the heart.
Simple 5 minute cool-down
Adductor leg stretch (1 minute)
Standing tall, push your bottom backwards and lean slightly forward and rock side to side to stretch inner thigh (alternating one leg straight and the other bent). Keep knees in line with toes.
Warrior triangle stretch (1 min 20 sec)
Stand with feet wide apart and raise your arms parallel to the floor. Reach them actively out to the sides, shoulder blades wide and palms down.
Turn your right foot slightly to the right and your left foot out to the left 90 degrees. Align the left heel with the right heel. Firm your thighs and turn your left thigh outward so that the center of the left knee cap is in line with the center of the left ankle.
Exhale and bend your left knee over the left ankle, so that the shin is perpendicular to the floor.
Stretch the arms away from the space between the shoulder blades, parallel to the floor then slide one hand down the front of your knee so that it facing the floor and raise the other hand upwards in a vertical line. Turn the head gently to gaze up towards the opposing hand.
Come back to centre, repeat on other side.
Tricep lunge (1 minute)
Stand tall, tuck tailbone under and lunge forward while keeping back straight. Reach one arm up and then bend behind head. Use opposite arm to push bent arm down further allowing a great stretching the back of the arm. Hold for a few seconds. Repeat on other side.
Hamstring stretch (1 minute)
Lay on back with legs straight out on mat in front of you. Lift one leg up (holding it near ankle or above knee). Inhale as you begin and on the exhale try to pull leg closer to body. Repeat this movement for 15 seconds on each leg. (alternative option – keep leg on mat bent).
Spinal rotation “Stir the pot” (40 seconds)
Sit with legs wide apart, feet flexed and back straight. Clasp hands together and stretch out in front and in a circular motion as if you are stirring a huge pot. Move arms in one direction for 15 seconds and the opposite direction for 15 seconds.
Want more? Check out 5 exercises you can do with friends.
And don’t miss more free exercises on The Healthy Mummy YouTube channel.
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