How To Warm Up For a Workout

Fitness is important, but how you prepare your body leading up to your workout is incredibly crucial for your body's wellness. 


First things first, to get the most out of your workout, you need to make sure you’re fuelling your body properly! Pre-exercise nutrition and hydration can make or break a workout. Having a small meal an hour to an hour and a half before is ideal, but this can range anywhere from 30 minutes to three hours before, depending on the individual. Listening to and learning from your body will help you discover what works best for you.



We need simple carbs for quick digestion and quick energy! Our bodies use glucose from food and from glycogen – how muscle cells store glucose for later use – to provide energy for exercise.

Examples of simple carbs are:

  • Granola bar

  • Fruit

  • Rice cakes

  • Toast or crackers

  • Greek yogurt

  • Oatmeal



Fuelling up with protein before a workout is always a good idea, especially for weight training. Microtears in muscles created during exercise need to be repaired during rest, and this requires protein. By giving the body the building blocks it needs before damage occurs, this helps the body take care of itself during and after a workout.

Again, you want to eat easily digestible sources. Some examples of good protein to have before you work out include:

  • Nuts or nut butter

  • Greek yogurt

  • Hardboiled egg

  • Milk or soy milk

  • Lean meat, like turkey or chicken



Hydration is HUGE! Everyone should be consistently drinking water throughout the day, but in order to make sure you’re hydrated before you sweat, make sure you have about two cups of water 2 to 3 hours before, and then one cup 10 to 20 minutes before a workout. The goal is to minimize the risk of dehydration without drinking too much. No one likes the feeling of water sloshing around in their stomach when they hit the gym. To avoid spasm and cramps in muscles, make sure you are also drinking about 1 cup for every 15-30 minutes of intense activity during or after your gym session!


Start with Foam Rolling

Foam rolling before a workout for as little as 10 minutes has such great effects! By learning to foam roll and working on the muscles you’ll be exercising you can:

  • Improve mobility and flexibility

  • Improve circulation

  • Improve muscular function by breaking up tight spots and knots


There are a lot of benefits to foam rolling, but there are a few things to keep in mind while you’re doing it!

  • Stay on areas that feel really tight until you feel the tension lessen

  • Avoid rolling over joints


Next up, a Little Cardio

Before a workout it’s important to get your body ready by doing some light cardio – jogging, skipping, or even a fast paced walk. This will allow you to get the most out of any exercise!

Doing pre-exercise cardio will:

  • Increase blood flow

  • Begin to prime large muscle groups for activity

  • Signal the nervous system to turn on and switch to the sympathetic nervous system (think “fight or flight”)

  • Increase heart rate, respiration, and blood pressure


Finally, Dynamic Stretching

Last but not least comes dynamic stretching! These stretches are full body movements where the position is held for short amounts of time. It is a great addition to any warm up; 5-10 minutes of dynamic stretching will continue to prime the nervous system for activity. By targeting specific groups of muscles this will tailor the warm up to the following activity.


Benefits of Exercise

We all know exercise makes you feel good, but have you ever wondered why?

Research shows that regular physical activity improves brain and nervous system health, has favourable effects on mental and emotional well-being, and improves quality of sleep and cognition across your lifespan! If you have any questions or concerns about starting an exercise routine, talk to a doctor, chiropractor, physiotherapist, or personal trainer to learn how to approach this in a safe, sustainable way to keep you moving through the years!

Dr. Hilary Hart

Dr. Hilary Hart is a chiropractor at Valeo Health Clinic in Kelowna where she works with a variety of people to achieve their goals. She believes that quality of life is a vital component of wellness and enjoys working cooperatively with patients to help them reach their goals and create healthier lifestyles. Regardless of age or fitness level, from grandparents to professional athletes, Dr. Hilary prides herself on approaching each and every one with the same enthusiasm and compassion.

Outside of the clinic, Dr. Hilary is a registered yoga teacher and works at the Hot Box Yoga where you can find her taking or teaching a class. She enjoys spending her days outdoors, whether she’s skiing, hiking, biking – road and mountain – or exploring the Okanagan with her French Bulldog, Walter, she makes sure to balance all of that out with her small obsession with cooking and baking.