Especially if you have limited time for your workout, you may be tempted to skip the warmup and cooldown. Don’t do it! Warming up and cooling down are important parts of your workout, because they help reduce stress on your muscles, including your heart.
When you take the time to warm up before a workout, you’re preparing your body for increased activity. Warmups gradually raise your body temperature and increase blood flow to your muscles, getting your cardiovascular system ready to move. You’ll also be loosening up your muscles, lessening your risk of injury and reducing muscle soreness after your workout.
Cooling down helps your body gradually move into your pre-exercise heart rate and blood pressure. It’s not as important for casual exercisers as warming up, but it’s particularly important for endurance athletes. There’s some controversy over the effectiveness of warming up and cooling down for preventing injuries, but they pose little risk, so it’s worthwhile to include them in your fitness routine.
To effectively warm up, do it right before you start your workout. Focus on large muscle groups before moving on to exercises specific to your sport or activity. You can do the activity and movement patterns of your chosen exercise, but do them slowly, at a low pace that increases gradually in intensity and speed. A warmup should not leave you fatigued, though you may be sweating by the end of it. Examples of warmup activities include:
- Walking slowly for five or ten minutes to get ready for a brisk walk.
- Walking to the gym before your workout.
- Walking briskly for five to ten minutes to prepare for a run.
- Swimming slowly to prepare for more intense swimming.
To cool down, just reduce the pace and intensity of your workout session for the final five minutes or so. This could mean walking slowly after a brisk walk, walking briskly after a run, or swimming at a leisurely pace after your laps. If you’re incorporating stretches into your workout, do them after your warmup or cool-down phase, so that your muscles will already be warm and supple.
No matter what kind of workout you prefer, you’ll find world-class training that keeps up-to-date with the latest in health and wellness at Wellbridge Family of Athletic Clubs. At our clubs, you’ll be greeted by our friendly team before you’re challenged and motivated by top-notch instructors in our fitness classes. You’ll make new friends because you belong here. Join today or contact us to learn more.