More often than not people are skipping a warm-up and cool down during their workouts. For many reasons, probably because they are short on time, they find it boring, or maybe it’s because they don’t have the knowledge to understand how it benefits them. Believe it or not a warm-up and cool down can be one of the easiest ways to reach your goals faster.
What is a warm-up?
A warm-up is the physical activity performed before any workout session to prepare the body for the demands required of the body during the workout (1,2,3).
Why is it important to warm-up?
A warm-up increases blood blow to working muscles, thereby increasing body temperature placing less reliance on the anaerobic energy systems (2). With less stress being placed on the anaerobic energy systems your body will be able convert fat into energy more efficiently allowing the body to sustain higher intensity activity longer (2,3). A warm-up will also reduce the amount of stress placed on the cardiovascular & respiratory systems, as well there will be increased lubrication in the joints allowing for increased range of motion & movement efficiency decreasing the possibility of injury (1,2,3). Another benefit to warming the body before exercise is preventing the body from overheating early in the workout by turning on the body’s ability to sweat and cool the body down (2,3).
How do I warm-up?
A proper warm-up is predetermined by how intense your workout will be and should last between 5-15 minutes (2,3). A warm-up should start with light to moderate level cardiovascular activity such as walking or biking, some form of movement preparation such as a dynamic stretching or foam rolling and then finish the warm-up with workout specific movement (2). For example, if a squat is involved in your workout you want to perform a warm-up set before the first set to specifically warm-up the joints involved in the exercise being performed.
What is a cool down?
A cool down is the physical activity performed after a workout to help the body recover to normal state (1,2,4).
Why is it important to cool down?
A cool down works the opposite way of a warm-up by slowing the heart rate, decreasing blood pressure, and decreasing body temperature (1,2). Light activity after a workout can also help with the clearance of waste products, toxins, and lactic acid developed during the workout potentially decreasing body stiffness and soreness (2,4). The risk of not performing a cool down after exercise is potential dizziness, light headedness, sickness, and potentially loss of consciousness. The primary purpose of a cool down is to allow the body to return to its normal homeostatic condition with as little stress possible (1,2,4).
How do I cool down?
Moderate to light cardiovascular exercise such as walking or biking for 5-20 minutes and the length of the cool down is determined based on how intense the workout was (1,2). After performing light cardiovascular exercise it is also suggested to stretch any overactive muscles holding each stretch for 20-30 seconds (1,2).
Tyler Pearce is a certified fitness professional for Are You Game Conditioning and has experience working with a variety of people such as elementary school athletes, high school athletes, OHL prospects, CCAA athletes, CIS athletes, occupational athletes, mud run athletes, and everyday athletes. Have a question or two about today’s post? Email Tyler at email@example.com to ask.
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(1) American Heart Association. (2014, September). Warm-Up, Cool Down. [Blog Post]. Retrieved from http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/PhysicalActivity/FitnessBasics/Warm-Up-Cool-Down_UCM_430168_Article.jsp#.V56fwfkrKM8
(2) Plowman, A., Smith, D. (2014). Anaerobic Metabolism During Exercise. Lupash, Emily. (4thed.). Exercise Physiology For Health Fitness and Performance. Philadelphia, PA.
(3) Sports Medicine Information. (2009). The Warm Up. [Blog Post]Retrieved from http://www.nsmi.org.uk/articles/warm-up.html
(4) Sports Medicine Information. (2009). Cooling Down after Sport – Sports Injury Prevention. [Blog Post] Retrieved from http://www.nsmi.org.uk/articles/injury-prevention/cooling-down.html