Proper Warm Up and Cool Down Before Exercise
It is important to take a few additional minutes before and after exercising to give your body a proper warm up and cool down period in order to stay healthy and improve performance and endurance.
For many, finding the time to exercise is often challenging, so adding a few minutes before and after exercising is often ignored. This is never a good idea. Instead of rushing your workouts, recognize that the benefits of spending a few extra minutes stretching your muscles and preparing your body for the workout ahead.
Cold muscles are more susceptible to trauma and injuries so it is important to “warm up” by getting oxygen rich blood into your body so it can be prepared for the rigors of exercise. Not only does a warm up benefit, it also prepares you mentally as the increased movement of blood improves coordination and awakens your body. So take a few minutes by starting with light calisthenics or jogging-in-place prior to a run. If you are playing a sport, such as tennis, practice your swing but at a slower pace. Perform nice and easy movements where your heart rate and breathing are increased. Overall, your warm-up should take approximately ten minutes, however, add a few more minutes when exercising in colder weather.
This is the process where you bring your heart rate back down to a normal level. By ignoring this step, you can not only place stress on your heart, but also increase muscle soreness and the likelihood of injury. An effective cooling period should take anywhere from 10 – 20 minutes and gives your body a chance to recover its normal body temperature, heart rate and blood pressure. Some beneficial cool-down exercises include gentle stretching (no bouncing), walking slowly after a brisk walk, or jogging slowly after a hard run.
Overall, treat your body kindly and remember that warming-up and cooling-down are essential to any exercise program.