You are eager to start your workout, get it done, and get on with your day. But it is important to remember that your body needs a warm up and cool down period before and after each workout. A warm up and cool down can be an easy walk before a run or an easy jog before a faster paced workout. Allow yourself about five to ten minutes before and after each workout for your warm up and cool down. Check out 5 great reasons for the warm up and cool down:
- Adaptation Period: Your body is like a diesel engine and needs time to warm up and also to slow down. Every aspect of your body is served through this adaptation period. Increased blood flow allows your muscles to become more flexible and ready for activity. Slowly increasing activity allows your heart rate to slowly increase rather than making a quick jump. And finally, your lungs and the muscles surrounding your airways are better prepared to inflate and deflate through a slow progression into activity.
- Natural Stretch: Stretching before your workout is virtually ineffective as you are simply attempting to pull a tight and cool muscle. Slowly increasing blood flow to the muscle as you increase the rate of muscle expansion and contraction will act as a natural stretch. In the same way, slow deceleration of the muscle will allow for stretching throughout the cool down.
- Prevents Cramping/Stiffness : Starting and stopping activity quickly increases the likelihood of developing knots and cramps within the muscle. Folks who finish their run, hop in their car, and drive 20 minutes home will find that they are tight and sore feeling their first few stops out of their car. A short walk after the run will allow the muscles to relax before coming to rest or moving on to the next activity.
- Speeds Recovery: Without a proper cool down the cramped and tight feeling a runner develops may not go away until he has begun his next workout. This means that tight spots continue to tighten and become knots during the time of rest between workouts. Loose muscles that have been properly cooled down will allow for better recovery without further damaging pre-existing knots.
- Improves Workout: Allowing the body ample time to warm up will guarantee a greater range of motion for your muscles as well as a more efficient cardiovascular system. When you are ready to hit the full speed of your workout your warmed-up body will be prepared to put forth a greater effort while avoiding injury.
Watch elite runners during the Olympic games. A 100m sprinter will spend a full hour or more warming up and cooling down before and after his 10 second event. This process guarantees he or she will be fully prepared for an outstanding effort as well as recovery from the race.
Give yourself 5 minutes extra each day and notice how it improves your overall fitness!