What is a good way to prepare for exercise?

Performing a light warm-up routine roughly 5 to 15 minutes (depending on your ability level) is the best way to get your body ready to exercise. A warm-up routine typically includes some form of flexibility training and light to moderate aerobic routine. Flexibility training can help to lengthen tight (short) muscles as well as increase the body's tissue temperature.  Light cardiovascular training can be performed on traditional equipment (i.e. treadmill, elliptical, or bike) or a series of full range of motion exercises that increase your heart rate. These also increase your body's core temperature. The right warm-up routine may help to increase performance during the workout and decrease the risk of muscular injury. Exercise selection should vary between individuals, based on ability and known movement imbalances, and progress as you get better at your workout. Also, performing the same or similar exercises after your workout is done, as a cool-down, is highly recommended. This may help to return your muscles to their normal length and decrease recovery time post workout.

A proper warm-up is a safe way to prepare immediately before exercise. Perform several flexibility exercises that take your joints through their full range of motion. You can also warm-up on a cardio machine such as a treadmill, stationary bike, or step. This will help activate your muscles by raising your body's core temperature. This in turn will help increase the elasticity of your tissues and promote more efficient movement.

Preparing for exercise is more than physical. You need mental, environmental, clothing and gear preparation. There is mental preparation. Mental preparation should include setting realistic goals. The best goals include fun, enjoyable activities with an exercise partner. There is environmental preparation. Once you have some goals around your exercise goals including fun, enjoyable activities where are you going to exercise: gym, outdoors or at home. There is also preparation for the appropriate clothing and gear. What gear and clothing do you need to participate in your chosen activities. For example, what kind of shoes do you need for walking? 

Being more fully prepared for exercise can help build confidence and motivation.

Preparing for exercise is an important factor in your fitness routine. One of the first steps you can take is to assess your warm up activities. The importance of a good warm up cannot be overlooked because this is the time when you prepare your body for the work out to come. Flexibility and light cardio activity are often included in a general warm up and can many serve purposes. Flexibility exercises can help you address muscle imbalances and improve your range of motion. Cardio activities can help boost your heart rate and put you in the right frame of mind for exercising. A fitness professional is a great resource for helping you decide what types of flexibility and cardio exercises would benefit your particular fitness needs and goals.

You should always have a 5-15 minute warm-up before any workout. Your warm up should consist of a 5 minute low intensity cardio activity (treadmill, bike, or light calisthenics) and a 5-10 minute period of stretching. Depending on your present state of health and fitness you may engage in various forms of corrective stretching if you have any muscle imbalances or postural deviations. If you have progressed beyond corrective stretches, then your warm-up flexibility might be more specific to the strength or power exercises to follow your warm-up. In either case it is paramount to begin every workout with a warm-up to get your body and mind primed for physical activity.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.