We know that when you get to your local gym, you’re ready to jump into your exercise routine. But don’t just dive in! We firmly believe that it’s important to start any workout with a warm-up, and then end it on a cool-down. Whether you’re a beginner, a seasoned pro, or somewhere in between, warm-ups and cool-downs are a crucial step in reaching your fitness goals and avoiding unnecessary injuries.
So why do it? While there’s debate about whether warm-ups and cool-downs will lower risk of injury, there are some obvious benefits. Warming up eases your body into aerobic activity, and gradually wakens your cardiovascular system. You’ll raise your body temperature and increase blood flow to your muscles. Additionally, warming up may also help reduce soreness and cramping after your workout!
Cooling down paces your recovery so your heart rate and blood pressure don’t plummet when you’re done. Incorporate stretching into your cool-down exercise so you can relax and lengthen your muscles and improve your mobility.
Here’s how to warm up. If you’re planning a cardio workout, start with slow-paced aerobic activity. This can be anything from taking a walk, to a leisurely bike ride, to using an elliptical machine or treadmill on lower settings based on your overall fitness level. Start slow, then ramp up the pace and intensity of your workout.
If you’re strength training, pick an easy cardio activity that works multiple muscles at once. Walking on a treadmill, light jogging, and pedaling on a stationary bike ought to do the trick.
Also consider pre-workout drinks for your warm-up. These drinks usually consist of electrolytes and caffeine, the better to fuel and motivate your workout. Check the counter at your local Fitness Connection – we probably have something that works for you.
Here’s how to cool down. As with warm-ups, it’s best to cap off your workout with 5-10 minutes of easy cardio. If you’re already doing cardio work such as running, cycling or aerobics classes, just dial down the intensity. If stretching is a part of your warm-up or cool-down routine, be sure to do it last. Stretching “warm” muscles can help improve your performance, range of motion and flexibility.
As with your warm-up, don’t forget your post-workout drink or meal. They provide the protein your body needs to rebuild after a tough workout. Just ask at the front desk to learn more.
If you have any more questions about the benefits of warm-ups and cool-downs, or just want to discuss what’s right with you, just ask any of the instructors or staff at your local gym. We’re always ready to be your Fitness Connection.