When it comes to activities, some people “jump right in.” Your workout, however, shouldn’t be an impromptu event. Warm-up and cool-down sessions are integral parts of all exercise sessions. Investing in these two 5-10 minute sessions pays off with big benefits:
- Think of oxygen as fuel for your body; warm-up exercises dilate your blood vessels with a much-needed supply of oxygen for your muscles
- It’s no accident that it’s called “warming up.” (Ever notice how much more flexible a piece of taffy is at room temperature compared to one taken right out of the fridge?) When you warm up, your movements increase your heart rate, which increases blood flow, which raises your muscles’ temperature -- and when your muscles are warm, your stretches are more effective.
- Warming up allows your body to “get used to” a workout by placing a gradual load on your heart. It’s like having a heavy load placed in your arms one brick at a time versus having ten bricks thrown at you at once. Your heart appreciates time to get used to the upcoming activity.
Your cool-down session is just as important as the warm-up. Cooling down slowly from exercise
- Reduces your heart rate gradually
- Allows your body to recover effectively with minimal residual soreness later
- Speeds the removal of lactic acid (the stuff that makes your muscles sore) from your body