Think your morning warm-up starts at the gym? Think again.
Imagine your treasured circa 1960 (not too far from our age, right?) Bugatti sitting in the garage, awaiting a big day on the road. Do you hop in, start the engine, and hit top speed down the tollway? Never! You start the engine, idle to ‘warm it up,’ then purr down a side street before ever hitting full speed.
So why expect more of yourself? Eyes popping open with thoughts and feet running, you bound out of bed, expecting your body to respond efficiently to the day’s demands. We Prime Women can still be active in activities we’ve always enjoyed, but with a caveat: mindful modification and preparation. Let’s talk prep.
Warm up to a morning warm-up
I understood the power of an early warm-up as I sat enraptured by a model in her fifties who was sharing her secret for runway longevity: her fitness routine began when she opened her eyes…in bed!
The warm-up, or “a balanced combination of static stretches and rhythmic limbering exercises that prepare the body…” according to the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America, is essential for warning the body of the physical stresses of the day. Body awareness doesn’t have to begin at the gym. Why not start the moment we take our first deep morning breath?
These 3 moves or stretches take just three minutes. Remember, your body has been shut down in repair mode all night, so be gentle. There should never be discomfort. If you do experience pain, always consult your physician.
To begin, in the morning, as you open your eyes:
1. BREATH CONNECTION
Without a pillow, place your head directly on the mattress and take a deep, cleansing breath. This releases the stale CO2 in your lungs and surges fresh oxygen to your muscles and brain. Breathe again and exhale, slowly elongating legs and arms into a gentle pencil-like stretch, moving fingers and toes. Slide one foot at a time closer to your bottom. Your feet will be flat on the bed, with your knees pointing to the ceiling. Press your lower back into the mattress to engage your core. Enjoy a few breath cycles. This first step will help to clear the cobwebs and get your motor started… but slowly, so you can ease into the day and start it right.
With your eyes on the ceiling and your hands behind your thighs on your hamstrings, gently bring one knee at a time toward the chest. With your legs perpendicular to the bed with toes to the ceiling, gently open the lower back, sinking the belly button to the backbone. Release and return each foot to the bed. Now, give yourself a gentle hug and one arm at a time, stretching each over your body to release and open your upper back. As you work through the stretch, you’ll feel all of the creaks and stiffness of the night start to dissipate, and your body will prepare for real movement.
3. LEG/ANKLE STRETCH
Place your hands behind the upper thigh on the hamstring, then – keeping your knee soft with a gentle bend – extend one leg into the air. Gently point and flex your foot, making sure you don’t feel any discomfort. Graduate to writing your imaginary initials in the air to work your joints in each direction, then lower and repeat with the other leg. This will prepare your legs for the day ahead.
Now, it’s time to throw off the covers! With a grateful heart for a brand new day, you’ve done your morning warm-up and are ready to hit the ground running! It seems so simple to do some low-key, low-impact stretches before you get up, but you’ll see serious changes in how your body reacts. If you’re worried about slowing down your morning routine, just set your alarm for 5 minutes earlier. The three steps to a great daily warm-up take very little time and even less effort. But the benefits will keep your day running smoothly.
After you’ve taken the time to get a little stretch and deep breathing done, it’s no time to neglect other aspects of your life. Start with a healthy breakfast, so your body has the fuel it needs to perform. Consider a protein-rich smoothie, or you can power up with an immune-boosting smoothie or another healthy breakfast food.
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