How to tailor your warm-up
WITH many people taking on an increased exercise routine over the warmer months it's important to start things right. Warming up should be a part of any exercise routine. Not only does it increase performance, it reduces the risk of injury and paves the way for faster recovery. Try these methods:
THE BODY HEAT WARM-UP
Otherwise known as the "just move". Go for a light walk or jog, row, skip or use the elliptical cross trainer. Generally just move for around five to 10 minutes. This will raise the heart rate and increase blood flow to the entire body.
This is a great way to promote joint health and look after your connective tissue. It involves rotating every joint in every direction possible. Think of swimmers standing behind their blocks before big races. They windmill their arms, jump up and down and generally look like they're expending a bit of energy. They understand the benefits of dynamic stretching to their performances. I twist, jump and move dynamically for two to three minutes, starting out with the wrists and working my way to the elbows, shoulders, back, trunk, hips, knees then the ankles. Make it fun and put a bit of oomph into it. It'll have more effect than static stretching (which you probably did in your school PE lessons) because it has the added benefit of getting the blood flowing and activating the central nervous system.
THE SPECIFIC WARM-UP
Tailor your warm-up to move through the range of motion in the specific exercise you're going to undertake. This is usually performed at a slower, controlled pace to promote muscle memory, increase muscle function, improve movement patterns, improve balance and co-ordination, promote flexibility and increase your range of motion. If you're going to be lifting weights or using external objects, stay light in your warm-up and take the time to move with control.
I like to complete all three of the warm-up methods so I can best perform the desired exercise with good mechanics and consistency. Remember, the human body is a machine. Just as with a car, we should avoid accelerating it one hundred per cent from a standing start. If we try to push too hard without a proper warm-up, we inevitably risk injury, leading to medical and physio expenses down the track.
1. Keep it short. You only need five to 10 minutes of low to moderately strenuous activity before you exercise.
2. Tailor the activity to your main workout. Walk before a slow jog and slow jog before a run.
3. Replace static stretching with dynamic stretching. Get those joints - and your body - moving. Save your static stretches for after exercise when your muscles are warmer and your body more flexible.
HEART SMART AT ANY AGE
KEEPING your heart healthy at any age is easy if you know how.
You can be in the best shape of your life in your 30s, 40s or even 50s without too much strain or pain, says one of Australia's leading motivational and fitness trainers, Mark McKeon (markmckeon.com).
Heart disease is the number one killer of Australians, according to the Heart Foundation.
It recommends 30 to 45 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity (like brisk walking) most days of the week and muscle-toning activities twice a week.
Another key recommendation is that every little bit helps.
Smartwatches like the Fitbit Versa can help you understand your fitness level and improve your Cardio Fitness Score over time.
IN YOUR 20S
McKeon recommends cardiovascular workouts of 40 to 50 minutes five times a week. Aim for a heart rate of 145 to 150 beats per minute for at least 20 minutes of each session. The Fitbit Versa has more than 15 exercise modes, including run, bike or weights and will also track your heart rate. Don't forget at least one strength or resistance training session a week.
IN YOUR 30S
What you need - a minimum of 40 minutes of exercise three times a week, mixing cardiovascular and strength work. Good options: exercise circuits where you alternate between aerobics and weight training moves; jogging, tennis and boxing. McKeon suggests you work out at a heart rate of 135 to 145 beats per minute for at least 20 minutes of each session. Add some flexibility work, such as yoga, Pilates, or just stretching.
IN YOUR 40S
Try brisk walking, cycling or swimming - the Fitbit Versa is waterproof to 50m - at least three times a week for 40 minutes. Aim to get your heart rate into the 125 to 135 beats a minute range for at least 20 minutes of your workout and remember to add stretching, and a weekly resistance session.
IN YOUR 50S PLUS
Keep going to keep going. Weight training and exercises like dips, lunges and push-ups are great. Work out in the 120 beats per minute range for at least 20 minutes, three times a week, with workouts of 40 minutes and plenty of stretching.