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