Kathy, 73: What Warms Up, Must Cool Down
Welcome back to this special series featuring the stories of the Senior Planet Sponsored Athletes as they pursue their fitness goals in 2023. You can find all of our Sponsored Athletes’ stories here.
Kathy Molloy, 73, is an active participant in CrossFit workouts, golf, and pickleball. After receiving a diagnosis of osteoporosis in her late 50s, Kathy started lifting weights to increase bone density and overall strength. Today, she is sharing the importance of preparation and recovery practices to prevent activity-related injuries.
Over the years as an active person, I have learned the importance of warming up before any exercise and cooling down after. This education occurred mostly through the “school of hard knocks”! When I was younger, I enjoyed skiing and playing racquetball. I didn’t always want to take the time to prepare and treat my body, and I would end up with some sort of injury. Now in retirement, I continue to participate in several physical activities like golf, pickleball, CrossFit, and walking. I attribute my ability to stay active to the committed practice of warm-ups and cooldowns.
“Warm-up exercises pump oxygen-rich blood to your muscles, which increases flexibility.”
If you want to perform better and have less muscle soreness and stiffness, take the time to prepare and recover. Warm-up exercises pump oxygen-rich blood to your muscles, which increases flexibility. They also elevate your heart rate and blood pressure, which helps your body function more efficiently. Warm-ups will prepare you physically and mentally for the activity you plan to do.
“Stretching after exercise helps prevent muscle cramps and potential dizziness or lightheadedness.”
Cooldowns are just as important. Stretching after exercise helps prevent muscle cramps and potential dizziness or lightheadedness. These exercises help slowly normalize your heart rate and breathing pace. If done consistently, cooldowns will also improve your range of motion and flexibility.
My primary sport for the last 14 years has been CrossFit. I got involved after being diagnosed with osteoporosis with risk for fracture. My doctor suggested weightlifting to strengthen my muscles and increase my bone density. Warm-ups are the first movements we do at CrossFit before anything else!
“This consistent routine has helped me get stronger, more flexible, and prevent injury.”
I typically get to the gym 30 minutes before a group session and do my own personal warm-up session. I start with a foam roller and then perform a mix of dynamic and static stretching exercises. After my workout, I always make sure to cool down. I believe this consistent routine has helped me get stronger, more flexible, and prevent injury.
What if you don’t participate in a strenuous activity like CrossFit? And what if you don’t have 30 minutes to warm up? You’re in luck! On Wednesday, July 19 at 1:30pm EDT, I will be hosting a live presentation here on seniorplanet.org where I’ll teach you some quick and easy warm-up and cooldown exercises for low-impact sports like golf and pickleball.
For golfers, we’ll focus on simple exercises like hip openers, cross body arm movements, and some modified golf swings. The goal is to warm up the hip, knee, and shoulder joints along with the lower back. Cooldown movements will involve stretching the arms, wrists, upper chest, and hamstrings.
Pickleball warmups involve a few minutes of cardio — like a quick jog or speed walk — to get the heart rate up. We’ll also incorporate both upper and lower body warm-up exercises, like dynamic arm circles and side-to-side lunges. The cooldown routine will mimic warm-ups, but with static or stationary postures.
Seems like a lot, right? Don’t worry! These warm-ups and cooldowns take just five minutes or less. AND they are so important in helping to prevent injuries. I hope you’ll join me next week on the 19th — event details will be shared soon at seniorplanet.org/fitness. In the meantime, ask your warm-up and cooldown questions in the comment section below!
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