You can work hard on the treadmill, on the basketball court, at the free weights or in the yoga studio. Most people who are active focus on this part of their workout, and consider this the “main event”. However, did you know that the warm up and cool down of a workout are just as important?

A proper warm up has many benefits and is vital to a successful workout. Warming up increases blood flow through your tissues, which in turn makes your muscles more workable. This means that you can work harder and move better with a good warm up. A good warm-up can increase oxygen to your muscles and prepare them for stretching. This doesn’t just mean the typical stretch at the end of the workout, but includes the stretching of your muscles during any form of activity, whether it is indoor or outdoor, walking or running. Preventing injury is a major key to being active, because after all if you get hurt, you can’t be active anyways. Also, a proper warm-up prepares the heart of an increase in activity, which prevents a rapid increase in blood pressure. Rather than starting at full speed, or 100%, try working your way up to your workout.

Some elements of a good warm-up can include a light jog or other simple cardio exercises such as jumping jacks or high knees. Others can include kinesthetics and full range of motion exercises such as hip circles, arm circles, and lunges. Any and all of these can be used to warm up your muscles in a way that your body will thank you.

So, if a proper warm-up helps prevent a rapid increase in blood pressure, do you think a cool down does the opposite? It sure does! It allows for a gradual recovery to your pre-exercise heart rate and blood pressure. Next, a cool down can help prevent muscle soreness, as it’s common to feel stiff after exercise. Some of you may think that a brisk walk doesn’t require you to include a cool down after, but I guarantee you that you will feel better for it. It will allow your body to return to its regular state in a more appropriate way.

There are three main elements or examples of a cool down. First, being a gentle exercise, second is low intensity and third, a long-hold static stretching. Just like the warm-up, the cooldown can include gentle kinesthetic and full range motions. However, the difference is that there should be a full body static stretch to improve flexibility after the workout. Take the time to stretch your major muscles such as quadriceps, hamstrings, biceps, shoulders, and triceps. Anyone ready to change your way of working out to include two major steps in the process? Join me!

Until next time,

Keep living your best life,

Kait