Warming up before any type of exercise is important. For dancers, this might mean ten minutes or more of stretching and even a small series of cardio exercises to get your muscles warm and ready to perform. But when it’s cold and harder to get your muscles ready to go, doubling down on your warm-up routine is a must.

Your warm-up routine helps you prepare your muscles for the work they are about to do and prevents injuries. When you sit down to stretch or jog in place for two minutes, you are literally warming up the temperature of your muscles. Why? Warm muscles are more elastic and ready to move. That’s why you can pull and tear muscles when you dance cold.

When you dance during the colder seasons, it is especially important to warm-up the right way. That is, you should do cardio before you stretch. Stretching might be part of warming up, but stretching a cold muscle is as bad as exercising with one. Light cardio will loosen up your muscles for work on flexibility before you start reaching for your toes!

The end of your exercise is just as important as the beginning, though. Take the same diligence you apply to creating a proper warm-up routine for this season and also create a cool-down routine. Walking around for a few minutes or doing a set of lunges can be a great way to get your now energized muscles to slip into a more relaxed state.

Fall and winter are great times to get a lot of exercise (and dance practice!) in because it’s too cold to spend time outside. Just make sure to pay attention to how your muscles are reacting to the temperature before you step into first position!