A warm up is the act of preparing for an athletic event or workout by exercising or practicing for a short time beforehand. Warming up helps reduce your risk of injury and the aches and pains that come with exercise. The physiological reason to warm up is to assist your circulatory system in pumping oxygen-rich blood to your working muscles. The idea is to increase circulation throughout the body in a gradual manner. A proper warm up safely prepares the body for the increased demands of exercise. Cold muscles do not absorb shock or impact as well, and are more susceptible to injury.
A warm-up helps you prepare both mentally and physically for exercise and reduces the chance of injury. During a warm up, any injury or illness you have can often be recognized, and further injury prevented. Other benefits of a proper warm up include:
- Increased movement of blood through your tissues, making the muscles more pliable.
- Increased delivery of oxygen and nutrients to your muscles. This prevents you from getting out of breath early or too easily.
- Prepares your muscles for stretching
- Prepares your heart for an increase in activity, preventing a rapid increase in blood pressure
- Prepares you mentally for the upcoming exercise
- Primes your nerve-to-muscle pathways to be ready for exercise
- Improved coordination and reaction times
Every workout should also include a cool down portion. This is especially important if you are engaging in strenuous forms of exercise that increase your heart rate and place heavy strain on your muscles.
A proper cool down is important for keeping you healthy. You don’t want to come to a sudden stop after running a marathon, cycling uphill or doing any other activity that has your heart pumping blood at high speeds. Skipping a cool down in these situations can sometimes lead to sudden dizziness. When you cool down properly, you help to resume normal breathing. A cool down will also help to reduce muscle soreness after a workout. You do not want lactic acid and toxins to lodge themselves in the muscles. When you stop abruptly after a strenuous workout, the likelihood of this occurrence is greater. A cool down portion will help to gradually push the lactic acid and other unwanted substances out of the muscles. This often helps to reduce soreness after your workout.
In general, the cool down portion of your workout will allow for the blood to circulate throughout your body. This is important for carrying important nutrients and oxygen to your muscles and cells, and assists in the growth and repair of muscles.
When designing the cool down portion of your workout, make sure that your level of activity is much less strenuous than the core of your workout.