Ever been so pumped up to begin working out that you forget to warm up first? Or have you forgotten to cool down altogether because you can’t wait to head to the showers?
Warming up and cooling down are two essential parts of an effective workout session. Bothn activities help regulate our bodies before and after every strenuous activity.
Why is Warming Up and Cooling Down Important?
Basically warming up and cooling down are both exercises, just lower in intensity and done at a much slower pace. Making sure to warm up and cool down prevents injuries from happening, improves athletic performance, and also help your body recover from exercise.
To help your body get pumped up for your upcoming workout session, warm up exercises include light jogging, stretching, and slowly cycling in a bike. In preparation for the coming exercise, your muscles need extra blood pumping to it and your body’s temperature should be a little higher than normal.
Because you have slightly worked your muscles out during warming up, the chances of injuring yourself is already much lower. Muscle strain and fatigue is also less likely to happen. Remember that jolting your muscles to activity isn’t the correct way to begin a workout session.
As for cooling down, your aim is to bring your body back to its normal state. You want your heart rate and blood pressure to be where it was prior to a workout. Your heart has been pumping much harder than it normally would during exercise and a sudden stop of activity isn’t exactly ideal. Regulating blood flow is one of the aims of cooling down, especially if you are undergoing endurance training.
What Happens if I Don’t Warm Up or Cool Down?
Skeletal muscle injuries, which make up about 30% of injuries seen by medical practitioners, could have been easily prevented if only the persona had warmed up or cooled down prior to engaging in any physical activity.
This happens when you don’t cool down after exercising. Hastily stopping all activity will cause your muscles to stop contracting, which in turn can lead to blood pooling in your body’s lower extremities. When this happens, there isn’t much pressure for the blood to go back to the heart and brain, leaving you feeling woozy and lightheaded. In some cases, some people have even fainted.
Added Stress on Your Heart and Lungs
Starting any physical activity without doing any warm up exercise can add unnecessary stress to your cardiovascular and respiratory systems. Whenever you warm up, your heart and lungs, begin to prepare themselves for a round of workout by gradually increasing its heart rate.
Case in point: one study’s aim was to see the effects of intense exercise on the heart. 44 men were examined and based on ECG results, 70% of the subjects showed irregular or abnormal readings when they were tasked to perform about 15 seconds of intense workout on the treadmill. This simply means that the heart did not have enough oxygen to perform optimally.
- You perform better at the gym
- Blood flow is improved
- Oxygen levels are at an optimal level
- Muscles contract and relax faster
- Prevents injury
- Prepares you mentally
- Better recovery
- Reduces the effects of DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness)
How To Warm Up and Cool Down
Typically, around 10 to 15 minutes would be enough to qualify as a warm up exercise. When you feel like you are physically ready for more of a challenge, then you can begin your real workout session.
If you are doing cardio, begin by doing a slow aerobic activity. Walking, using a treadmill or elliptical machine on low setting, or leisurely biking would be good warm up activities.
If strength training is your aim today, doing light cardio is also a great warm up exercise. You may zero in on a specific muscle group too if you prefer. Begin by doing stretches and the exercise (without any weights) to help ease up the muscles.
For cooling down, continue doing your cardio exercise but with much less intensity. Always end each session with stretching as it will help relax muscles, improve your flexibility, and lessen the chances of injury. Do each stretch as gently and slowly as you can, breathing in and out deliberately. Be mindful of each breath and stretch, and feel your heart rate slow down.
Workout with Ease
The next time you find yourself wanting to skip warming up and cooling down, don’t. Listen to your body always, and make sure to give it proper care. Rec Xpress believes in providing each member a safe and fun workout experience every single time. Team up with one of our personal coaches for a more in-depth and personalised exercise program geared towards achieving your fitness goals.