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By Matt Stone

Sometimes powerful and important reminders come from the most ridiculous and unforeseeable places. Like what happened to me yesterday for example. I was in a bad mood while driving, and asI passed by the local dildo shop there was a guy flying a small kite outside in the parking lot. Right there I was reminded to lighten up, and I immediately stopped brooding over what was annoying me at that moment (paying $35 for the worst Mexican food one could possibly conceive of)?and began thinking of ways I could frame this event on my Facebook wall. I lightened up?even more when a?pickup truck pulled up with a giant pig statue in the bed while I was watching the cock-kiting bandit from a’stopped position at a’traffic light.

I should know the benefit of doing a good warmup before exercise. I have had a crappy back since my teenage years that responds incredibly well to doing some light activity and getting the blood flowing before doing any heavy lifting. I have also had exercise-induced asthma since that age as well, which is completely non-existent if I do a good 20-30 minutes of warming up, but really aggravated if I jump right into a hard sprint – especially in cold weather. So I know, and have discovered by paying attention to my own biofeedback, that a warmup is a powerful thing. Yet I have pretty much ignored the whole warmup concept every time I’ve walked into a gym my whole life. I don’t have 20-30 minutes to kill before hitting the weights. I want to get cracking on all the stuff I wanna do before I get too tired or just want to get out of there and do something else.

Enter the ridiculous and unforeseeable reminder…

Although quite painful to admit this, my recent series on the benefits of low-intensity exercise as well as this post,?was inspired, in all honesty – not by Hans Selye or Albert Szent-Gyorgyi or Weston A. Price or any fomer Nobel Prize winner – but?by Ryan “Cowboy Abs”?Ehmann. Ehmann, unlike Szent- Gyorgyi, is a man who?appears to aspire to be the?Country Western?equivalent of Richard Simmons.

My dad has been following his “Lose 12 Inches in 12 Workouts” program and feeling a lot better and losing weight, instead of feeling worse and gaining weight trying to do higher intensity circuit training, HIT, HIIT, and other stressful forms of exercise (especially when done without a warmup!).?In Ehmann’s instructional video he claims, and I’m paraphrasing, “You have to do a 12-minute warmup, not 11, not 10, but 12. If you don’t your fat cells will?[makes a squish-like sound while clenching his fist] and you won’t burn fat. And you wanna burn fat. Whoo-hoo, that’s what I’m talkin’ about!”

As unimpressed by?Ehmann’s warmup advice as I was, I did begin rethinking the potential possiblity that maybe doing exercise without a proper warmup really could elicit a huge stress response. It?didn’t take me long, or much further research, to find that?immediately jumping to a high heart rate does in fact trigger a much greater stress and inflammatory response. Hey, if it can make my bronchioles seize up and my back much more injury-prone…

Anyway, take some time to do a warmup before you do any hard exercise. The Cowboy says 12 minutes. Phil Maffetone says 12-15. Alex Hutchinson says, for those with exercise-induced asthma, to take at least 20-30 minutes to warmup , and I suspect this is the most accurate – despite how tedious it sounds. It’s not just about limbering up your muscles either,?or even getting some good, warm, oxygenated blood circulating. I think it may be much more than that. It may be the difference between exercise “working” to’trim off some body fat and not working or even being counterproductive.

A proper warmup should consist of you slowly building your pulse rate higher and higher until you are ready to do some vigorous exercise. You can do it any way you want, from flying kites at a dildo shop to?flying dildos at a kite shop, as long as it is’slow and gradual and takes at least 12 minutes. Try it. Even if you don’t get some immediate “wow” experience from it, it’s still probably a good habit not to be overlooked or brushed aside – if only to prevent injury during exercise.

Now commence making fun of me, Ryan Ehmann, and?asking perverse questions about whatI was doing at a dildo store (even though I just drove past it) in the comments.

How to Warm Up Before Exercise

Why is it important to warm up before exercise?