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Plus-Size Fitness Excerpt from Don't Weight
Once you have decided to add more activity to your life, why is it so important to warm-up before exercise? Some of the benefits of a good warm-up are better demonstrated by a story rather than just explained:
Calista and Me
I was shocked when it happened to Calista and me. We were two young strong healthy aerobic instructors in 1990. We were each teaching many classes every week. We were in the peak of fitness. The classes that we taught were non-impact aerobics. This was VERY unusual for the time. High-impact and step aerobics were all the rage.
We decided to attend some classes taught by other instructors so that we could compare and learn additional moves. Each class we attended was a challenge both physically and emotionally. Often we had to adapt dangerous moves and cope with body loathing comments. However, we could DO the workout. Well, that is, until we went to this one class.
The music blasted, the instructor shouted directions, and the participants were pumped. I felt a bit of pressure to perform. I was the only fat woman in the room and I wanted to prove I was as good as anyone else. (I know that is not the way it "should" be. It was just the way I felt.) I kept pace with every move. I acted like I was fine, like it was fun. In reality, I was in agony. My legs felt like rubber. My muscles burned. I felt exhausted! How could this be? Am I not really fit after all? This isn't that tough a workout. What was wrong?
In the locker room, after everyone else had left, I asked Calista how she felt. She started out saying she was fine and that she enjoyed the class. Then, when I confessed that my legs and arms were killing me for the first half of the aerobic section, she groaned with relief: "My God, me too. My legs felt like they were going to fall off!" We couldn't figure out why this class was so difficult when all the other classes were fine. Were we suddenly out of shape? (I found myself thinking old thoughts like "Am I too fat to do this?") Then it hit us...We did not warm-up! The instructor started the class with moves that were fully aerobic, not warm-up moves.
Let me tell you what we learned that day. There was good reason for our fatigue and difficulty. I want you to think about all the tiny capillaries that carry the oxygenated blood to your muscles. Your muscles need that oxygen to function. Those capillaries are NOT dilated when your muscles are cold. They cannot carry the needed oxygen to the muscles. The oxygen-starved muscles feel fatigued and burn. You feel like you cannot do your usual workload. You feel weak, experience pain, and have more sore muscles the next day. Missing a warm-up causes problems.
However, when you do warm-up, the capillaries will be fully dilated. The muscles will have more oxygen available. You will be able to function at your best with less soreness the next day. You will feel more successful at your fitness. Feeling successful increases your likelihood of maintaining your fitness for the long haul!
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