Remember when you had to run a couple laps and do 10 jumping jacks before the kickball game in middle school P.E.? Oh, the horror.

Well, coach wasn’t trying to torture you despite it feeling like that. He was actually have you do dynamic stretching or active stretching because warm-ups prime your nervous system, your muscles, mentally prepare you for exercise and performance, and help prevent injury!

Do these five easy dynamic stretches below before any workout to fully prepare your body:

Arm Swings
1. Stand tall and hold arms out to your side.
2. Slowly swing your arms back and forth across the front of your body.
3. Repeat this continuous motion for 30 seconds.

Alternate Toe Touches
1. Start by standing with your feet spread as far apart as you can.
2. Lean forward toward one leg and try to reach your foot or until a comfortable stretch is felt in your lower back and hamstrings.
3. Then try to touch the other foot with the opposite arm.
4. Continue this motion, alternating your touch on each foot with the opposite hand.

Standing Leg Swings
1. Stand with your legs shoulder-width apart, one hand on your hip, the other hand holding on to an object such as a bar or the back of a chair.
2. Begin the stretch by extending and lifting one leg up to about hip height in a controlled motion.
3. Continue the exercise by lowering the leg and bringing it behind your body. Flex your foot while lifting your leg up to enhance the stretch.
4. Do 10-15 repetitions, and then switch to the other leg.
5. Then swing your leg in front of your body and behind your body to change the motion.

Calf Raises
1. Stand on the edge of a step. Or, if you have a step-aerobics platform, place two sets of risers underneath the platform.
2. Stand tall with your abdominals pulled in, the balls of your feet firmly planted on the step, and your heels hanging over the edge.
3. Rest your hands against a wall or a sturdy object for balance.
4. Raise your heels a few inches above the edge of the step so that you’re on your tiptoes.
5. Hold the position for a moment, then lower your heels below the platform — you should feel a stretch in your calf muscles.

Cat Cow
1. Start on your hands and knees, aligning your wrists underneath your shoulders and your knees underneath your hips.
2. Exhale and round your spine up towards the ceiling, and imagine you’re pulling your belly button up towards your spine, really engaging your abs.
3. Then inhale, arch your back, and let your belly relax and loosen up.
4. Repeat 5-10 times.

xx, The FabFitFun Team