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Posted by Barry on Feb 13, 2013

Warm Up/Cool Down?


You do it before and after each exercise routine, but do you know why you are warming up and cooling down? I mean it takes a little time and I see people blow off their warm up and cool downs all the time.  What are they risking or is it not a big deal?

The Warm Up

The main reason for warming up 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 exercise. This also gets your blood circulating and increases the viscosity of other bodily fluids (known as thixotropy), all of which works as a defense system against injury as your workout becomes more strenuous. So the time you take to warm up is getting your body ready and lowering the risk of you injuring yourself.  Can you blow it off?  Sure, but you risking hurting yourself and it only takes a few minutes and let’s face it I know I need the warm up to get my mind right as I get mentally prepared for the workout I am about to do.

The Cool Down

The main purpose of cooling down is to bring your breathing, body temperature and heart rate back to normal slowly.  During the cool down routine you are allowing the blood to properly redistribute itself to the heart.  This redistribution helps rid the muscles of lactic acid which can build up around the muscles during a workout.  If you stop your exercise abruptly and do not cool down, the blood can pool up around your muscles.  This can cause insufficient blood flow and oxygen to the brain giving you a light headed and dizzy sensation.  Dizziness, nausea and feeling worn out are common symptoms of an improper or not doing a cool down period.  I also know that after a hard workout I like to keep the burn going just a little longer and doing the cool down is almost a “reward” for the hard work out I just did.

So the long and short of it is that while warming up and cooling down are not absolutely essential they are just simply smart things to do.  The benefits certainly outweigh the time and effort, so make sure you do both and know that you are doing everything you can to improve your body.

So What About Stretching

After exercise, stretching elongates muscle fibers, essentially resetting the muscle so that it’s supple and ready for further bouts of contraction. Stretching after working out will also help you recover faster and lessen the likelihood of getting injured. So just like the warm up and cool down it is a smart thing to do and helps get you ready for the next day’s work out.  As you have already seen, stretching is already part of the normal “cool down” on your workout program.  It is because of the benefits that stretching provides and you can just incorporate it into your cool down anyway.

So now you know why you do a warm up and cool down with stretching on every Beachbody program you may use.  It is important and although the temptation may be there to skip it now and again, just like the nutrition and workouts it is an important part in keeping you healthy.

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