5 Little Known Benefits of Warming Up & Cooling Down After Exercising

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While working out in the gym, I have noticed that many exercisers tend to skip two very important parts of their workout. It is crucial that exercisers starts with a warm-up and ends with a cool-down. As a fitness educator, I educate my clients of why they should include warm-ups and cool-downs in their workouts.

Warm up before vigorous exercise is crucial. Warm-up prepares the heart muscle and circulatory system. When you start physical activity, blood flow is not immediately available to the heart and muscles. A proper warm-up decreases the risk of irregular heartbeats associated with poor coronary circulation. A proper warm-up also improve performance, since it minimizes the premature formation of lactic acid at the start of physical activity. In addition, warming up raises the temperature of the body. For each degree of temperature elevation, the metabolic rate of the cells increases by about 13 percent.

Another reason is warming up helps prevents injuries. Muscle elasticity and the flexibility of the tendons and ligaments are increased. Synovial fluid, which lubricates the joints, is released during easy activity. In general, warm up prepares the body for the increased demand of intense exercise.

Warm-ups activities are movement activities. Stretching is not a warm-up exercise because it does not raise the body temperature. In fact, an exerciser can tear cold muscles by stretching them.

General warm-up involves calisthenics, stretching, and general body movements such as slow jog followed by a light streth.Warm up for about 5-10 minutes depending on the person's fitness level followed by some light stretching.

Specific warm-up, on the other hand, provides a skill rehearsal for the actual activity. Swinging a golf club, throwing a baseball or football are examples of specific warm-up.

I have been working out in a health club setting for almost 10 years. In my experience, I hardly seen anyone do a cool-down activity. Cool down is also as important as a warm-up. After a heavy work-out, it is important to spend 5-10 minutes in a cool down stage. A cool down after the workout is important to promote an effective recovery from physical activity. Some of the benefits of a cool down are listed below:

1. The opposite of a warm-up. Respiration, body temperature,and heart rate are gradually returned to normal, preventing an irregular beat the may be life threatening.

2. During the cool-down stage, the legs help return the blood to your heart. Muscle in the legs acts as a pump to bring blood back to the heart. Suddenly stopping cardiovascular activity causes blood to pool in the legs instead of circulating to the brain. Not enough supply of blood in the brain can cause dizziness or light-headedness.

4. Cool-down can help increase a person's flexibility.

5. Active cool-down also speeds lactate removal from the blood.

There are two parts of a cool-down. First, a person does a light cardiovascular activity such as walking to lower the heart rate, body temperature, etc. Then, static stretching should be followed. Exercisers should stretch all the major muscle groups for at least 10-30 seconds. The stretch should feel a slight discomfort but not feel pain. Stretching at the end of the cool-down can help increase flexibility without causing injury.

Add a warm-up and cool-down to your current exercise regimen and see the difference.

The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to medically diagnose, treat or cure any disease. Consult a health care practitioner before beginning any health care program.

Emily Clark is editor at Lifestyle Health News and Medical Health News where you can find the most up-to-date advice and information on many medical, health and lifestyle topics.

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