I know, I know … it’s Jetti Walk time! It's your time to clear your mind and move your body. You grab your Jetti Poles, and out the door you go, putting one foot in front of the other.
Not so fast. Taking just a few minutes to warm up will help you get the most out of that Jetti Walk, give you the chance to build strength and flexibility, and set you up for success. Here’s why.
Benefits to Your Body
When you take a few minutes to warm up, your body undergoes a few important changes. Here are three.
- Benefits to your cardiovascular system: A good warm-up gradually increases your heart rate, breathing rate, and circulation, sending more oxygen and nutrients to your muscles. This helps ensure that your muscles have the oxygen and nutrients they need for optimal performance. In addition, this improved circulation also helps your body remove metabolic by-products, such as lactic acid, which may reduce muscle soreness.
- Benefits to your muscles: Dynamic stretches during a warm-up specifically target muscle groups, promoting flexibility and reducing the risk of strains or tears during the workout.
- Benefits to your joints: Ever heard the expression “motion is lotion?” It’s not just your muscles that benefit from a warm-up; it is your joints, too. As you begin to warm up, your joints become more lubricated thanks to activation of synovial fluid. This increased lubrication reduces friction and can enhance flexibility and improve your range of motion.
The Benefits to Your Mind
Around here, we care as much about the mental and emotional benefits of your walking practice as we do about the physical ones. And here too, a proper warm up helps to prime the mind for the challenges ahead and foster a focused and positive mindset.
Even a few minutes of an intentional warm-up allows you to mentally transition from a sedentary state to an active one. This mental shift helps prepare your mind to focus on the upcoming physical demands and gives you a chance to bring your focus to your upcoming walk.
Finally, the rhythmic and repetitive nature of warm-up exercises, combined with deep breathing, can help alleviate stress and anxiety. This calming effect prepares both the mind and body for the walk to follow.
Where to Start
Not sure where to start? Coach Jenny suggests 8-12 slow and controlled repetitions of each of these four warm-up movements:
- Leg swings: Stand tall and place your hands on the top grips, with poles in home position. Swing one leg forward and backward, then side to side, gently increasing the range of motion. Repeat with the other leg. This helps loosen up your hip joints and leg muscles.
- Ankle circles: While standing with poles in home position, lift one foot off the ground and rotate your ankle clockwise, then counterclockwise. Switch to the other ankle. This warms up the ankles, which are crucial for walking.
- Breaststroke: With poles in home position and feet hip width apart, begin to circle your arms forward, out, and in, creating a large circle as if you were swimming. Gradually increase the range of motion to warm up your shoulder joints and upper body, which is really important when Jetti walking.
- Heel Raises: Placing your hands on the top grips of your poles for balance, begin to slowly lift your heels up off the ground and then slowly lower them back down. Repeat this for about 30 seconds or 15 sets. This helps loosen up your ankles, warm up your calves, and engage your core muscles (to keep you balanced).
While we can’t wait to see you get out the door for your walk, remember that a few extra minutes devoted to a proper warm-up can make all the difference. It's not just a ritual; it's a commitment to the longevity of your fitness journey.