One of my previous blog posts expressed the importance of stretching before and after a workout. What’s equally as important is a warm-up and cool-down. According to Richard Stein, M.D., a professor of cardiology at New York University, “Warming up and cooling down are good for your exercise performance,” resulting in you becoming better, faster, and stronger. In order to get the best out of your workout, incorporating a warm-up and cool-down are essential.
Think of a warm-up as a way to prep your body prior to exercising. Just like you warm up your car on a cold day, you should do the same with your body. Warming up will increase your flexibility, heart rate, and overall body temperature. One of the benefits of doing this is a reduced risk of injury because your body is preparing for the exercise it is going to be put through. You’ll find that as your muscles become warmer, they “respond better to challenges” because they’re “loose and warm”. Because your heart rate will be raising as you perform your warm-up, you are minimizing the amount of stress on your heart. Additionally, when you warm up, you are dilating your blood vessels, so your muscles will be getting the oxygen that they need.
- Warm up for 5-10 minutes. This can be done on a treadmill, bike, or whatever you choose.
- Stretch after your warm-up
Cooling down is equally as important as warming up. Doing this “keeps your heart rate and blood pressure from dropping rapidly.” If your heart rate and blood pressure drop too quickly, you run the risk of feeling dizzy.
“Strenuous exercise causes the blood vessels in your legs to expand, bringing more blood into the legs and feet. When you stop exercising suddenly without taking time to cool down, your heart rate slows abruptly and that blood can pool in your lower body, causing dizziness and even fainting.” LiveStrong
Cool Down Tips
- Cool down for 5-10 minutes. This can be done on a treadmill, bike, or whatever you choose – just make sure you are gradually slowing down.
- Once you are down with your cool-down, STRETCH!
What are your favorite things to do to warm-up or cool-down? Leave a comment below and remember to start incorporating both into your workouts if you’re not already!
Main Photo: Greatist