Warming Up Before Exercise
You might be tempted to skip warming up before you exercise. After all, you only have so much time to exercise – “Let’s just get on with it already! I’m in a hurry!” But warming up before exercise is a critical component of your fitness routine, and skipping it could have unpleasant and even dangerous results – such as muscle strain, muscle injury, and pain. It also improves your workout performance!
The Warm-up: Basics
A warm up is a short workout period at the beginning of your exercise session. It is generally low intensity and prepares your body for its upcoming exertion.
The purpose of a traditional warm up is to slightly increase your heart rate. This raises your core body temperature and increases the blood flow to your muscles. Cold muscles and other connective tissues do not stretch very easily. A warm up session literally warms them up and relaxes them, making them more supple and ready to work.
Without a warm up, you will be more susceptible to sprained muscles, cramps, and injury. Ultimately, these effects could keep you from exercising for an extended period of time as you recover from the injury, which is obviously not conducive to the healthy lifestyle you desire.
There is no set prescription for what your warm up should consist of. You can choose a set of preparatory exercises and stretches, or you can do a light intensity version of your upcoming workout such as a brisk walk to prepare for a run, or lifting light weights before increasing the load. One common practice when lifting is to first complete a full set of the exercise at a much lower weight. This set does not count toward your set total.
These ten or so minutes of warming up before exercise will have a profound impact on your performance today and in the future. Make this a part of your routine, no matter what activity you are doing.