Fit Tip: Importance of a Warm-Up and Cool-Down

by Life Fitness

July 24, 2012 // Category: Fitness Advisor

When time is tight and you have to squeeze in a workout, the first portions that usually get omitted are your warm-up or cool-down, but both are essential to a good workout.

Follow these tips and learn to efficiently incorporate warm-ups and cool-downs into your regular exercise.

Always warm up before you exercise. A warm-up doesn't necessarily mean stretching (save that for after). It means a lower intensity version of the physical activity you are about to do. The greater your intensity of workout, the longer the warm-up should be. A good indication of an adequate warm-up is a light sweat.

Warm-ups...

  • Help get your blood circulating and lubricate your joints
  • Increase delivery of oxygen and nutrients to your muscles, which prevents you from getting out of breath early or too easily
  • Prepare your heart for activity, helping you to avoid a rapid increase in blood pressure

Always cool down after you exercise. A proper cool-down will help your heart rate gradually return to normal and lengthen the muscles to prevent injury.

The first part of a good cool-down is gradually slowing your intensity for several minutes. The second part of is stretching. The best time to stretch is right after your initial slow-down since your muscles are still warm and are more likely to react favorably. Try holding stretches for at least 20 seconds.

Cool-downs...

  • Help your heart rate and breathing return to normal at a gradual pace
  • Help avoid fainting or dizziness, which can result from blood pooling in the large muscles of the legs when vigorous activity is stopped suddenly
  • Reduce the immediate post-exercise tendency for muscle spasm, cramping and stiffness

With the numerous body benefits to warming up and cooling down, make sure you add both to your scheduled workouts.

 
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