- The importance of warming up and cooling down
- Benefits of warming up and cooling down
- Warming up basics
- Cooling down basics
- How to find the right exercises
- Learn more
- Sign up for Performance Playbook
- The Best Stretches for Runners to Warm Up and Cool Down
- Stretching has many benefits
- The most effective stretches for warming up and cooling down
- Exercise 1: Warm-up for hips, quadriceps, shoulders and upper body
- Exercise 2: Warm-up for hips, quadriceps, hamstrings and back
- Exercise 3: Warm-up for quadriceps and glutes
- Exercise 1: Cool-down stretch for hips and quadriceps
- Exercise 2: Cool-down stretch for hips, quadriceps and upper body
- Exercise 4: Cool-down stretch for glutes and hips
- Exercise 5: Cool-down stretch for inner thighs, hamstrings and calves
- Warming up and cooling down for exercise
- Why warm up?
- What is a warm-up?
- What does a warm-up do?
- Ensuring an effective warm-up
- 1. General warm-up
- 2. Sport-specific warm-up
- 3. Stretching
- Why cool down?
- Ensuring an effective cool-down
- 1. Continuing your chosen exercise while gradually lowering its intensity
- 2. Slow jogging, brisk walking or gentle cycling
- Stretching as part of your cool-down
- Why Warming Up and Cooling Down are Important
- Cool Down
- Warm Up, Cool Down
- So what’s the big deal?
- Warm up
- Cool down
- Benefits of Warming Up and Cooling Down
- Benefits Of Warming Up
- Additional Articles
- Why Warming Up and Cooling Down is Important
- Why Warming Up and Cooling Down Is So Important
- Benefits of Warming Up
- Benefits of Cooling Down
- Increased Risk Of Injury
- Blood Pooling
- Increased Stress On Cardiovascular System
The importance of warming up and cooling down
If you want to help your child improve sports performance and prevent sports injuries, you might focus on the actions that occur during a game or workout. However, what happens before and after play has a significant impact on your young athlete’s health too. An expert shares why warming up and cooling down is vital to keeping your child strong, healthy and in the game.
Benefits of warming up and cooling down
Children’s muscles and bones are different than adults.
A young body is under constant stress from growth and development, which can lead to tight muscles, varying levels of mobility and flexibility, and potential injuries – all of which can be addressed with proper warm-up and cool-down routines. Parents and coaches can help children understand this importance and encourage good practices from an early age.
According to Josh Adams, Performance Manager EXOS at Children’s Health℠, warming up and cooling down are critical for any age and any intense activity. “Improved performance should ideally also increase a child’s resistance to injury,” Adams reminds us. “Proper warming up and cooling down can be great ways to reduce the overall risk of injury.”
Adams notes that proper warm-up exercises can activate and protect a child’s muscles during sport or play. Not only will they help prevent injury, but proper warm-up and cool-down techniques can also help children perform better, improve their overall fitness levels and achieve more of their sports performance goals.
Warming up basics
Whether your child is playing sports casually or trying to make the game-winning shot, there are ways to improve mobility (range of motion around a joint) and stability (ability to maintain control of joint movement) with warm-up exercises.
According to Adams, warming up before activity will:
- Increase the core body temperature and blood flow; the heart rate should go up and the child should be lightly sweating
- Improve posture, a child’s range of motion and performance
- Decrease the risk of injury
Most warm-up routines can take 10 to 30 minutes to complete, but Adams says there is no one-size-fits-all routine. “The exercises and preparation should be customized to what movement they are about to go into. We each have a slightly different movement profile.”
Adams notes that static stretching is not an effective warm-up. Instead, he recommends concentration on pillar (the region between the shoulders and the hips) stability, followed by mobility exercises.
Movements originate from that area and energy is transferred to the rest of the body.
If they are not ready to go, not only will there be a lack or decrease of performance, but athletes are more ly to be injured,” Adams notes.
Key pillar movements should include the following areas to avoid tears or other injuries:
Warm-ups should also include integrated movements that start with a simple version of the movements the children are about to do, and then progress into more complex motions. The warm-up should be specific to the activity and the needs of the child, including age, fitness level and endurance.
Cooling down basics
Cooling down is just as important as the warm-up, and should be a gradual return to baseline activity. Adams notes it can take anywhere between five to 30 minutes for the heart rate and sweating to decrease.
“Static stretching should be part of the cool down, but it’s not enough. The focus should be on slowing down, working on mobility again and extending the soft tissues,” Adams advises.
Children should focus on stretching many of the same muscles that they used during sport or play. This helps circulate blood and flush lactic acid that may occur during an intense workout, sport or playtime for younger children. Flushing lactic acid buildup decreases the chances of muscle fatigue and soreness.
How to find the right exercises
Many young athletes struggle to identify the right exercises for proper warming up and cooling down. Adams suggests consulting a physician, trainer or sports performance expert. They help guide and find the right balance between the amount and type of movements.
“It’s not just about one type of exercise, especially for younger children,” Adams explains. “Sports performance and injury prevention is about ensuring that children have adequate mobility, stability and strength.”
Adams says that encouraging your young athlete to make warming up and cooling down a permanent part of their routine will help keep play fun, decrease risk of injury and improve overall performance for years to come.
Children’s Health Andrews Institute for Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine is the only institute of its kind in North Texas, with the goal of helping young athletes stay strong no matter the season. Our experts can help identify best warm up and cool down practices.
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The Best Stretches for Runners to Warm Up and Cool Down
by Sascha Wingenfeld
There are many benefits to stretching before running: it prepares your body for the workout to come and increases joint flexibility.
“Regular stretching alone cannot prevent injuries, make you run faster, or correct poor posture. But it prepares your body for running and helps relax tired muscles afterwards,” says running expert Sascha Wingenfeld.
Stretching has many benefits
There are different types of stretches recommended for before or after your run:
- Before running: A short warm-up routine of dynamic stretching can help your muscles feel refreshed. “It’s more about relieving everyday soreness and preventing muscle imbalances before your workout. That way you don’t have to struggle against your body during your run.” Check out all benefits of warming up before your run.
- After running: A static stretching routine initiates the recovery process. “Stretching as a cool-down relaxes your body and mind.” This supports and speeds up your recovery post workout.
The most effective stretches for warming up and cooling down
Are you not really sure what stretching exercises to include in your warm-up or cool-down? We have put together two short routines to help you optimize your warm-up and cool-down.
Dynamic stretching is designed to warm up your muscles. “This should help loosen and warm up your muscles without reducing muscle tone,” says Sascha. Move smoothly through the exercises and do not try to stretch to the maximum point of flexibility.
Recommended warm-up routine:
- 5-10 minutes of easy running
- 1-2 series of stretches with 10 repetitions each
- Hold each position for 1-2 seconds
Exercise 1: Warm-up for hips, quadriceps, shoulders and upper body
How to do the exercise:
- Take a wide lunge step forward with your left leg. Place your hands on the ground on either side of your left foot (sprinter’s stance). Now extend your right leg behind you while keeping your back straight.
- Twist your upper body to the left and up. Reach your left arm toward the ceiling and gaze up at your hand.
- Now turn your upper body back toward the floor. Push the elbow of your left arm down toward the inside of your left foot. Turn your left knee slightly out and hold your right leg in a relaxed position.
- Repeat this sequence at least 5-10 times on each side.
Exercise 2: Warm-up for hips, quadriceps, hamstrings and back
How to do the exercise:
- Take a wide lunge step with your left leg. Place your hands on the ground on either side of your left foot (sprinter’s stance).
- Now extend your right leg behind you. Lift your bottom in the air and slowly straighten your left leg until you feel a pull. At the same time, bend your head toward your left knee.
- Repeat this sequence at least 5-10 times on each side.
Exercise 3: Warm-up for quadriceps and glutes
How to do the exercise:
- Stand on your right leg and pull your left knee to your chest.
- Then pull your left foot to your bottom and reach your right arm high above your head.
- Repeat this sequence at least 5-10 times on each side.
The following cool-down routine helps your body reduce the initial soreness in your muscles after your workout.
Remember to stretch until you feel a slight pull, not until you feel pain. Make sure to breathe calmly and deeply: your body needs oxygen to relax your muscles. Repeat each exercise on both sides.
You should not perform this extensive stretching routine after very intense workouts. A shorter version of the exercises is probably enough.
Recommended cool-down routine:
- 5-10 minutes of easy running
- 3-4 series of stretches
- Hold each position for 60 seconds
Exercise 1: Cool-down stretch for hips and quadriceps
How to do the exercise:
Take a lunge step forward with your right leg. Put your left knee on the floor. Push your hips forward and pull your left foot to your bottom. Make sure to engage your core and open your chest.
Exercise 2: Cool-down stretch for hips, quadriceps and upper body
How to do the exercise:
Kneel with your toes flat and sit back on your heels. Lean back and put your hands on the floor behind you. Push your hips forward, open your chest and press your knees toward the floor.
Exercise 3: Cool-down stretch for toes and soles of feet
How to do the exercise:
Kneel with your toes tucked and sit back on your heels. Slowly shift your weight back to increase the stretch in your toes.
Exercise 4: Cool-down stretch for glutes and hips
How to do the exercise:
Place the outside edge of your right knee on the floor and twist your lower leg under you at a 65 degree angle. Extend your left leg behind you with your toes flat on the floor. Now press your left hip toward the floor. Press your upper body toward your right knee while keeping your back straight.
Exercise 5: Cool-down stretch for inner thighs, hamstrings and calves
How to do the exercise:
Perform the hurdler’s pose. Extend your left leg forward and place your right foot against the inside of your left thigh. Grab the inside of your left foot with your left hand and pull your upper body forward while keeping your back straight. Extend your right arm over your head to feel a stretch along the right side of your upper body.
Need more routines? Check out the general bodyweight warm-up routine for any type of training or the special race warm-up routine!
Warming up and cooling down for exercise
Appropriate warm-up and cool-down periods are an important part of any exercise programme.
Why warm up?
When commencing a b exercise your body needs to make a number of adjustments. These include:
- increasing your breathing and heart rate;
- increasing the energy-releasing reactions in the muscles; and
- increasing blood flow to the muscles to supply them with more oxygen and to remove waste products.
These adjustments do not occur straight away, but require a number of minutes to reach the necessary levels.
So the purpose of a warm-up is to encourage these adjustments to occur gradually, by commencing your exercise session at an easy level and increasing the intensity gradually.
If you were to start exercising at a strenuous level without a warm-up, your body would be ill-prepared for the higher demands being made of it, which may cause injury and unnecessary fatigue.
What is a warm-up?
A warm-up usually takes the form of some gentle exercise that gradually increases in intensity.
What does a warm-up do?
A pre-exercise warm-up does more than just make you warm, it:
- increases blood flow to the muscles, which enhances the delivery of oxygen and nutrients;
- warms your muscles, which promotes the energy-releasing reactions used during exercise and makes the muscles more supple;
- prepares your muscles for stretching;
- prepares your heart for an increase in activity;
- prepares you mentally for the upcoming exercise;
- primes your nerve-to-muscle pathways to be ready for exercise; and
- prevents unnecessary stress and fatigue being placed on your muscles and heart, which can occur if you exercise strenuously without a warm-up.
The warm-up is widely viewed as a simple measure to prepare your body for exercise of a moderate to high intensity, and is believed to help prevent injury during exercise.
Although there is a lack of clear scientific evidence that warming up prevents injuries – due to ethical constraints of doing studies in which the design involves a potential increased risk of injury to some participants – anecdotal evidence and logic would suggest that a warm-up should reduce the risk and, at worst, not increase it.
Ensuring an effective warm-up
To make your warm-up effective, you need to do movements that increase your heart rate and breathing, and slightly increase the temperature of your muscles. A good indication is warming up to the point where you have raised a light sweat.
If you’re exercising for general fitness, allow 5 to 10 minutes for your pre-exercise warm-up (or slightly longer in cold weather).
If you are exercising at a higher level than for general fitness, or have a particular sporting goal in mind, you may need a longer warm-up, and one that is designed specifically for your sport.
1. General warm-up
To begin your warm-up do 5 minutes of light (low intensity) physical activity such as walking, jogging on the spot or on a trampoline, or cycling. Pump your arms or make large but controlled circular movements with your arms to help warm the muscles of your upper body.
2. Sport-specific warm-up
One of the best ways to warm up is to perform the upcoming exercise at a slow pace. This will allow you to simulate at low intensity the movements you are about to perform at higher intensity during your chosen activity. Typical examples include steady jogging, cycling or swimming before progressing to a faster speed.
This may then be followed by some sport-specific movements and activities, such as a few minutes of easy catching practice for cricketers or baseball players, going through the motion of bowling a ball for lawn bowlers, shoulder rolls, or side-stepping and slow-paced practice hits for tennis players.
Sport-specific warm-ups are often designed by a qualified trainer in that sport.
Any stretching is best performed after your muscles are warm, so only stretch after your general warm-up. Stretching muscles when they are cold and less pliable may lead to a tear.
Stretching during a warm-up can include some slow, controlled circling movements at key joints, such as shoulder rolls, but the stretches should not be forced or done at a speed that may stretch the joint, muscles and tendons beyond their normal length.
Another component of stretching during a warm-up is ‘static stretching’ — where a muscle is gently stretched and held in the stretched position for 10-30 seconds. This is generally considered the safest method of stretching.
Perform a light static stretching routine at the end of your warm-up by stretching each of the muscle groups you will be using in your chosen activity. A static stretch should be held at the point where you can feel the stretch but do not experience any discomfort. If you feel discomfort, ease back on the stretch. Remember not to bounce when holding the stretch.
Studies comparing a warm-up that includes static stretching with a warm-up that does not include static stretching have shown that pre-exercise static stretching improves flexibility, but its effect on injury prevention remains unclear. Hence you may find it better to keep most of your static stretching for after your exercise session, that is, as part of your cool-down.
Apart from static stretching, other methods of stretching include ballistic, dynamic and PNF (proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation) stretching, each of which is best done under instruction from a qualified fitness instructor or sports coach.
Why cool down?
The practice of cooling down after exercise means slowing down your level of activity gradually. Cooling down:
- helps your heart rate and breathing to return towards resting levels gradually;
- helps avoid fainting or dizziness, which can result from blood pooling in the large muscles of the legs when vigorous activity is stopped suddenly;
- helps to remove metabolites (intermediate substances formed during metabolism) from your muscles, such as lactic acid, which can build up during vigorous activity (lactic acid is most effectively removed by gentle exercise rather than stopping suddenly); and
- helps prepare your muscles for the next exercise session, whether it's the next day or in a few days' time.
You may see conflicting advice as to whether cooling down prevents post-exercise muscle soreness, also known as delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS), which tends to occur after doing unfamiliar exercise or working at a harder level than usual. However, even if cooling down doesn’t prevent DOMS, the other benefits of cooling down mean that you should always make it a part of your exercise session.
DOMS is more common after unfamiliar exercise involving 'eccentric' muscle contractions, such as jogging downhill, or lowering weights, as the muscles are put under more stress than normal in these activities. However, such soreness usually only occurs in the first few sessions, since the muscles adapt, and with continued training should not occur.
Ensuring an effective cool-down
For an effective cool-down:
- perform low intensity exercise for a minimum of 5 to 10 minutes; and
- follow this with a stretching routine.
1. Continuing your chosen exercise while gradually lowering its intensity
Gradually slowing down the pace and exertion of your activity over several minutes can seem a natural progression, as well as fulfilling the need to include a cool-down period at the end of your exercise.
2. Slow jogging, brisk walking or gentle cycling
Another option is to jog, walk briskly or cycle for a few minutes after your exercise, making sure that this activity is lower in intensity than the exercise you have just performed.
Stretching as part of your cool-down
The best time to stretch is during your cool-down, as at this time your muscles are still warm and most ly to respond favourably, and there is a low risk of injury. Stretching helps to relax your muscles and restore them to their resting length, and improve flexibility (the range of movement about your joints).
As a guide, allow 10 minutes of post-exercise stretching for every one hour of exercise. Make these post-exercise stretches more thorough than your pre-exercise stretches. Ensure that you stretch all the major muscle groups that you have used during your exercise. Stretch each muscle group for 20 to 30 seconds, 2 to 3 times.
1. Woods K, Bishop P, Jones E. Warm-up and stretching in the prevention of muscular injury. Sports Medicine 2007; 37(12):1089-99
2. Bishop D. Warm up II: performance changes following active warm up and how to structure the warm up. Sports Medicine 2003; 33(7): 483-98
Why Warming Up and Cooling Down are Important
From the WebMD Archives
Warm-ups and cool-downs take just a few minutes, and they make all the difference for a great workout. Here's how to do both right.
A short warm-up stokes your blood flow and preps your body for exercise. Your muscles respond better to challenges if they're loose and warm. Warm-ups should take 5 to 10 minutes. You'll know you're done when you feel ready for more of a challenge.
Warm up with a slow-paced aerobic activity. Go for a walk, use a treadmill or elliptical trainer on a low setting, or bike at an easy pace, suggests Carol Ewing Garber, PhD. She's an associate professor of movement sciences at Teachers College, Columbia University. Start slow and gradually ramp up your pace and intensity.
Before Strength Training
Choose an easy cardio activity that warms up multiple muscles at once, such as treadmill walking, slow jogging, or easy pedaling on a stationary bicycle.
Or home in on specific muscle groups, says New York City celebrity trainer Joel Harper, whose clients include Olympic medalists. “They do 100 reps of the body part they're working that day. If they're doing shoulders, they'll do 25 punching bags in each direction with no weight, 25 shoulder presses to the side, and 25 to the front,” he says.
Don't come to an abrupt stop after vigorous exercise. That can make you feel light-headed and dizzy. Cooling down keeps your heart rate and blood pressure from dropping rapidly.
Cap off your workout with 5 to 10 minutes of easy cardio. Just dial down the intensity of what you're doing, whether it's running, indoor cycling, or Zumba.
Try ending every session with stretching, which boosts flexibility and may lower your risk of injury. Do it slowly and gently. Breathe into each stretch and don't bounce. Gentle stretches such as shoulder rolls and hip rolls are also perfect post-workout. Try chin drops, too: Lower your chin to your chest and hold for a count of five.
Do take longer warming up if you plan a high-intensity workout. Extend it to 10 minutes instead of 5.
Don't go from zero to 60. Start at a slow pace, and give yourself enough time to gradually bump things up.
Do stretch when your muscles are warm. Stretching cold muscles can cause injury.
Don't push a stretch too far. If it hurts, go into the stretch more easily, breathe deeply, and relax into it.
Do hold each stretch from 15 to 30 seconds.
Find more articles, browse back issues, and read the current issue of “WebMD Magazine.”
Carol Ewing Garber, PhD, associate professor of movement sciences, Teachers College, Columbia University.
Joel Harp, celebrity trainer, New York, N.Y.
© 2014 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.
A warm-up is essentially just the preparation for further exercise at a higher intensity. Warm-ups should be light to moderate in intensity depending on the exercise to follow.
There should be a gradual increase in body temperature and incorporation of large muscle groups. This slow increase in heart rate contributes to an increase in circulation, therefore, oxygen and nutrients will be delivered to working muscles.
There is also a cognitive benefit to warm-ups, as it provides mental preparation for further exercise.
Warm-up are priming the pump for exercise. In most instances, it’s of no benefit to go from zero to 60, so start incorporating a warm-up of 5-10 minutes on the bike, treadmill, track, or try some dynamic movements.
If going out for a 3-mile run, consider a half mile warm-up before your 3 miles. As we age, our warm-ups should get longer and more gradual.
This is also true if our intended exercise is particularly vigorous, or we’re coming back from an injury.
Almost the reverse of a warm-up, this time frame is a period of low impact and slower pace exercise performed after more vigorous exercise. Just we didn’t want to go from zero to 60, we don’t want to stop immediately. The risk of no to minimal cool downs can cause pooling in the lower extremity and an excessive drop in blood pressure.
Just as we had to prepare for a change in physiological state with the warm-up, we want to provide the opportunity to slowly transition back to a more normal physiological state with a cool down. We’ll see a drop in heart rate and blood pressure to a similar if not lower level than pre-exercise.
Along with fully warm muscles this is the best time to incorporate flexibility training, which can often be an overlooked area of fitness.
Start the cool down with a less intense version of the same exercise, or a few minutes of walk, then transition into a flexibility portion hitting major muscles groups with about a 10-30 second stretch.
Kimberly Burke is the director of the Adult Fitness Program at Colorado State University, an outreach program through the Department of Health and Exercise Science.
Adult Fitness offers exercise opportunities for employees of CSU as well as community members, while providing hands-on learning experiences for health promotion students. To learn more see http://hes.chhs.
For more health tips, visit the College of Health and Human Sciences Pinterest Board.
Warm Up, Cool Down
“Warming up and cooling down are good for your exercise performance — you’ll do better, faster, stronger — and for your heart since the increased work on the heart ‘steps up’ with exercise,” said Richard Stein, M.D., professor of cardiology in the Department of Medicine at New York University and co-director of Cardiology Consult Services.
“Stretching also makes many people feel better during and after exercise and in some people decreases muscle pain and stiffness.” When done properly, stretching activities increase flexibility.
So what’s the big deal?
A good warm-up before a workout dilates your blood vessels, ensuring that your muscles are well supplied with oxygen. It also raises your muscles’ temperature for optimal flexibility and efficiency. By slowly raising your heart rate, the warm-up also helps minimize stress on your heart.
“Warming up before any workout or sport is critical for preventing injury and prepping your body,” said Johnny Lee, M.D., director of the Asian Heart Initiative at the New York University Langone Medical Center and president of New York Heart Associates in New York City.
“Stretching allows for greater range of motion and eases the stress on the joints and tendons, which could potentially prevent injury. Warming up, such as low-heart rate cardio, prepares the circulatory and respiratory system for the upcoming ‘age- and type-appropriate target heart rate’ exercising, whether it’s endurance or sprint type of activities.”
The cool-down is just as critical. It keeps the blood flowing throughout the body. Stopping suddenly can cause light-headedness because your heart rate and blood pressure drop rapidly.
Before you exercise, think about warming up your muscles you would warm up your car. It increases the temperature and flexibility of your muscles, and helps you be more efficient and safer during your workout. A warm-up before moderate- or vigorous-intensity aerobic activity allows a gradual increase in heart rate and breathing at the start of the activity.
- Warm up for 5 to 10 minutes. The more intense the activity, the longer the warm-up.
- Do whatever activity you plan on doing (running, walking, cycling, etc.) at a slower pace (jog, walk slowly).
- Use your entire body. For many people, walking on a treadmill and doing some modified bent-knee push-ups will suffice.
Cooling down after a workout is as important as warming up. After physical activity, your heart is still beating faster than normal, your body temperature is higher and your blood vessels are dilated. This means if you stop too fast, you could pass out or feel sick. A cool-down after physical activity allows a gradual decrease at the end of the episode.
It’s good to stretch when you’re cooling down because your limbs, muscles and joints are still warm. Stretching can help reduce the buildup of lactic acid, which can lead to muscles cramping and stiffness.
Benefits of Warming Up and Cooling Down
Do you skip the benefits of warming up and cooling down when exercising? Do you think there just isn’t enough time for a warm up and cool down?
Perhaps you just think these steps are not that important.
Many people feel they are too crunched for time or just do not understand the importance of a warming up and cooling down.
Skipping these crucial steps in your routine is having books on a shelf with no book ends.
The book ends are the stability and support for the books just your warm up routine and cool down period are the “book ends” to your workout.
Warm ups and cool downs provide your body the stability and support your body needs before and after exercise.
Although the benefits of warming up and cooling down are different, there is real benefit to both steps.
Benefits Of Warming Up
The main purpose and benefit of warm up exercises is to slowly increase your heart rate. This increase in heart rate helps to raise your body temperature and to increase the blood flow to your muscles. This increase in blood flow properly oxygenates your muscles and prepares them for the upcoming more strenuous aerobic exercise.
With your body properly warmed up, you can easily and safely perform the needed stretching exercises to ensure proper flexibility and range of motion for your exercise routine. Warming up properly and then stretching readies your muscles for the aerobic exercise. This helps minimize potential muscle tears and injury.
With a proper warm up exercise and stretching routine the elasticity and flexibility of the tendons and ligaments are increased. Your joints are lubricated with synovial fluid which is released during your warm up routine. The time you need to properly warm up should be about 5 to 10 minutes, depending on your physical needs.
If your body is already somewhat warmed up from some active tasks, then you may only need 5 minutes to properly warm up your body and oxygenate your muscles. However, if you have been sedentary for awhile you may want to take 10 minutes to properly warm up.
To get the most benefit of warming up be sure to warm up your major muscles the hips, thighs, glutes, calves, chest and shoulders. You can target all of these muscles by marching in place and swinging your arms back and forth. To make your warm up exercise a bit more varied add some grapevines or jump roping. You don’t have to use a rope, just do the motion.
You can also add some larger arm movements circles while marching or jogging in place. If you are trying to get all the benefits of warming up to participate in a sport, then your warm up routine needs to take your specific sport into account.
In addition to a typical warm up, you want to be sure to warm up and target the specific muscles you will be using while playing the sport. To prepare the exact muscles you will be using during the sport perform the motion or activity of the sport.
For instance, if playing quarter back in a football game is what you are warming up for, then practice or mimic throwing the football several times to warm up those particular muscles. For your next exercise routine, be sure to get all the benefits of warming up and cooling down by make time for these two critical steps of your workout.
In addition to the many benefits of warming up, see why you also need to cool down after exercise.
Eating Before Exercise
Eating before exercise is just as important as warming up. Your body needs the right kind of fuel to stay energized for your workout. Check out this article to find out what and when you should eat before your workout.
If you are not sure where to start for your exercise routines, check out these tips. When first starting out with workouts you want to be sure to don't over do it. You also want to make sure you have the right clothing and environment to make it a successful workout.
Exercise Calorie Calculator
Use this free online tool to find out how many calories you burned with your workout. Just select the type of exercise, your intensity level and duration to calculate the number of calories burned.
Why Warming Up and Cooling Down is Important
Are you looking to start an exercise program to get back into shape and live a healthier lifestyle? An exercise routine may feel time consuming — but no matter what type of workout you choose, or how busy your schedule is, it’s critical that you don’t skip warming up before your workout, or cooling down afterwards.
You’d be surprised how many people decide they don’t need to warm up before working their core, or that it’s fine to skip their cool-down after jogging on the treadmill. In most cases, it’s not because people hate doing the warm up or cool-down, but because they want to save time. After all, it is just the main part of the workout that counts, right?
Unfortunately, it’s not just the main part of your workout that matters — and the people who skip the processes before and after a workout may be doing more harm to their bodies than they realize.
Why Warming Up and Cooling Down Is So Important
A warm-up and a cool-down both involve doing exercises at a lower intensity and slower pace, which improves your athletic performance, prevents injuries, and helps with recovery from exercise.
Warm up activities include light jogging, or cycling slowly on a bike.
Warming up before exercise prepares your cardiovascular system for physical activity, by increasing the blood flow to your muscles, and raising the temperature of your body.
It also helps to lower the risk of getting injured — when your muscles are adequately warmed up, the movements, stretches, and strain you put on them during your workout is less severe. This also minimizes muscle soreness.
Cooling down after your workout aims to gradually bring your heart rate and blood pressure to its normal level — the level it was at prior to exercising. During your workout, your heart rate has been pumping much higher than it does normally, and it’s important to ease it back down instead of abruptly stopping all motion.
Cooling down also helps to regulate your blood flow, which is especially important for people who undertake endurance sports such as long distance running.
To safely cool down, gradually reduce the pace of your exercise during the last 10 minutes of your session — for example, if you’re jogging, reduce your pace to a brisk walk for the last 10 minutes.
Benefits of Warming Up
- Improved Performance
Warming up improves your athletic performance in the following ways:
- Improved Blood Flow — Warming up for 10 minutes with an easygoing activity improves blood flowing to your skeletal muscles, and opens up blood capillaries.
Your blood carries the oxygen needed for your muscles to function, so increasing your blood flow is one of the best things you can do to set your muscles up for a workout.
- Improved Oxygen Efficiency — When you do a warm-up exercise, oxygen is released from your blood more readily, and at higher temperatures.
Your muscles demand higher amounts of oxygen while exercising, so it’s important to make this oxygen more available through a warm-up activity.
- Faster Muscle Contraction/Relaxation — Warming up with physical activity raises your body temperature, which in turn, improves your nerve transmission and muscle metabolism.
The end result? Your muscles will perform faster and more efficiently.
- Injury Prevention
Warming up prevents injuries by loosening your joints, and improving blood flow to your muscles — making your muscles less ly to rip, tear, or twist in a harmful way during your workout.
Stretching also helps prepare your muscles for the physical activities you’re about to perform.
- Mental Preparation
A side benefit of warming up is that your brain will become focused on your body and your physical activity as you go through the process.
This focus will carry over into your training session to help you to improve your technique, coordination, and skill.
Benefits of Cooling Down
After intense exercise, lactic acid builds up within your system, and it takes time for your body to clear it out.
Cooling down exercises (such as stretches) can aid this process of releasing and removing lactic acid, helping to speed up your body’s recovery post-workout.
- Reducing DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness)
While muscle soreness is to be expected after exercise, a significant amount of DOMS is very uncomfortable, and can prevent you from exercising in the future.
A study performed by California State University found that moderate intensity cycling after strength exercise helped to reduce DOMS. Cooling down after exercise helps to alleviate excessive muscle soreness, keeping you more comfortable and allowing your body to bounce back before your next workout.
Increased Risk Of Injury
Over 30% of injuries seen by sports medicine clinics are skeletal muscle injuries — which can be easily prevented by warming up and stretching.
If you stop exercising abruptly without cooling down, your muscles will suddenly stop contracting vigorously. This can cause blood to pool in the lower extremities of your body, leaving your blood without as much pressure to be pumped back to the heart and brain. As a result, you may dizzy and lightheaded, and you may even faint.
Increased Stress On Cardiovascular System
Warming up helps you to gradually increase your heart rate and breathing to a level that will be able to meet the demands of your workout. If you start exercising at a strenuous level without warming up first, you will place unnecessary stress on your heart and lungs.
A study was performed on 44 men to examine the effects of high intensity exercise on the heart. The subjects had to perform 10 to 15 seconds of intense exercise on a treadmill, without a warm-up.
The results showed that 70% of subjects had abnormal ECG readings because of the inadequate oxygen supplied to the heart — in essence, their hearts weren’t ready to perform at the high rates required for the intense exercises.
The next time you feel you can’t spare the extra 10 minutes to cool down after running, think carefully about the effect it will have on your body. Those 10 minutes certainly seem worth it when you consider that you’re helping prevent injuries to your body, improve your performance, and aid your post-workout recovery.