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Fun Light Cardio Before and After Workout to Prevent Muscle Strain

written by: Rochelle Connery • edited by: Angela Atkinson • updated: 4/16/2011

Think you don’t have time for a warm-up and cool-down during your workout? Think again! Take a little bit of time out of your routine (or add time to it) to prevent injuries and get your muscles prepped for exercise with this light cardio before and after workout.

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    Why You Should Warm Up

    Picture your body trying to lift a heavy object the minute you get up from watching TV for two hours. Do you think your muscles and spine would be ready? Hopefully you wouldn’t think so, because they’re not. You need to rev up your heart rate flex your muscles, or you could find yourself straining your muscles.

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    Why You Should Cool Down

    Stopping immediately after exercising is bad for your muscles and your overall body temperature. Going from fast activity to nearly no activity delivers too much of a motion disparity. Your body will instantly start cooling down, rather than gradually getting back to its normal temperature.

    Your muscles will suffer if you don’t cool down, too. You know that sore, stiff feeling you get every morning when you wake up? That’s often from not cooling down. If you took a little time to let your muscles cool down after a strenuous workout, you’d have been better off. That’s why you should take a look at this light cardio before and after workout.

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    Warming Up

    Getting ready for your light cardio before and after workout is as simple as putting on a pair of headphones, strapping your MP3 player to your exercise shorts and slipping into a pair of sneakers. It’s time to hit the road or treadmill for a light walk or jog. Don’t strain yourself, though. Take it easy.

    Don’t warm up for longer than 10 minutes. Five to 10 minutes is certainly enough time to loosen up those muscles, especially if you’re just doing some simple cardio.

    Walking and jogging alternatives include swimming, playing ball and doing a little stretching

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    Cooling Down

    Cooling down after a workout isn’t so much about the cardio as it is about the muscle soreness prevention. A few simple moves in your light cardio before and after workout will significantly increase the impact of the “after” part.

    • Toe taps: Cool down your leg muscles with toe taps. Put your hands on your hips and point one to straight ahead of you on the ground. Tap the floor at the north, south, east and west points of your body. Switch legs and repeat.
    • Lower body cool-down: Stretch out those legs and thighs! Pull one leg up to your chest, then switch legs. Bend over at the waist and place your heel, toes-up, on the ground in front of you. Finally, take one foot in your hand and lift it back and up to your rump.
    • Stretch those arms: Cross one arm over the front of your body, fully-extended. Take your other arm and pull your elbow in toward your chest. Hold this for several seconds, then release and switch arms. You should stand with your feet spread shoulder-width apart while doing this.

    Do this light cardio before and after workout the next time you exercise, and see if you don’t notice some big improvements in the way you feel!