Exercise is fun and healthy to do. But before working out, jogging, doing an exercise class or playing any type of sport, it is very important that you warm your body up.
Warm-ups improve performance and help prevent injury, because good muscular contractions are dependant on temperature. A warm-up increases muscle temperature, which in turn improves the capacity for exertion. Warming up will also keep your bones in peak condition and reduce the likelihood of breakages.
Of course, your muscles and bones aren’t the only parts of your body to benefit from a warm-up. Your lungs get something out of it, too, as warming up improves oxygen intake. This means you won’t be huffing and puffing as much during your workout.
A warm-up can consist of any number of exercises, but a 10-minute jog followed by 10 minutes of stretching is a good way to start. When stretching, ensure that all the major muscle groups are targeted and the joints loosened. You might want to finish your warm-up with some sprints.
After your exercise routine, don’t forget to cool down – it’s as important as warming up! Cooling down allows your body to maintain flexibility and helps prevent lactic acid build-up, which is what makes you ache after exercising.
To cool down go for a nice and easy jog for about 10 minutes, followed by a set of smooth, slow stretches to loosen the limbs and make the muscles supple. Make sure you breathe properly while stretching – push your diaphragm out as you fill your lungs with air, and pull it in again as you breathe out.
You’ll be amazed at the difference warming up and cooling down can make. You’ll be less sore, get fewer injuries and get more benefit out of whatever exercise regime you choose to do!