Now that the winter months are starting to be a thing of the past and the temperature outside is increasing, I often see members skipping the warm-up portion of their workout. Even though we may not feel that we need to warm up because of the weather, warming up is a very essential part of your exercise program and should not be overlooked. Just like a car in the morning, your body needs to be warmed up before it can go full throttle.
A well established warm-up routine will make your body run more efficiently with a lower possibility of sustaining an injury during a hard workout. The warm-up actually prepares your body for the intense exercise that is about to happen. It does this by increasing the blood flow to the muscles which improves the flexibility and the elasticity of the muscles. A warmed up muscle also contracts more forcefully and relaxes more quickly which results in both increased speed and strength.
Here are a few guidelines when planning your warm-up:
- A warm-up should be about 10 minutes in length and should increase your heart rate above resting and physically make you warmer.
- Stretching is not a good warm-up. Stretching does not necessarily make your muscles warmer and stretching a “cold” muscle can actually cause damage to that muscle.
- A warm-up should be light to moderate aerobic activity.
Cooling down after exercise is just as important as warming up:
- A cool down allows the body to return to its normal resting state it was in before exercise.
- Cooling down is good to prevent blood from pooling in the extremities and helps to improve flexibility.
- Light aerobic activity and stretching are good examples of
a cool down.
For more information around warming up and cooling down contact one of the many certified personal trainers at YMCA Calgary.
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