Why Is It Important To Warm Up and Cool Down?

There are several things to remember when you begin an exercise program. The first is to consult your doctor. After that, each workout session needs to begin and end with a warm up and cool down.

Think of your body as a car. In the morning, your car is cold because it has been sitting all night. The gas and oil have settled in the bottom of their respective receptacles. When you turn the key, the car is slow to start up but after a few minutes, the pistons are moving easily and the gas is moving around in the tank. Your car is ready to get back on the road.

The same goes for your body. After a night of rest or a day of sitting at work, your muscles can be stiff or “cold.” To get them ready to get going for your next exercise session, it’s necessary to warm them up.

Warm Up

Add sugar to warm tea and it dissolves readily for a sweet taste. Add sugar to iced tea and it just sits on the bottom of the glass. In a similar way, Warm muscles move more easily. This is important when you are exercising.

Depending on the exercise, you may be twisting, bending, turning or jumping in many directions. A warm muscle can handle this stress without tearing or straining. Your muscles get the most benefit from the workout.

On the other hand, jumping into a workout without a warming up period is asking for trouble. Muscles are reluctant to stretch and move. Sudden stops or turns can cause severe sprains in the ankles, back, shoulders and elbows. You may not feel it during the workout but you will definitely know what happened once you sit down again. Many people stop exercising after the first few sessions because of improper preparation.

Cool Down

When you exercise, your heart rate goes up. Pumping blood through the body increases the amount of oxygen you have available during your workout. More oxygen gives you more energy.

All of this is okay for the hour or so that you are working out. But, once the exercise session draws to a close, the cool down period brings your body slowly back to a resting state so you can go one with the rest of your day. Have you ever seen people stop a workout when it gets too hard? That is a big mistake.

Think of your heart as a racing car. Stopping in the middle of a workout when your heart is racing is pulling the emergency break when the car is moving at full speed. Something is going to get broken. Shocking your heart like that can lead to arrhythmias.

If you are tired, lower the intensity but keep moving. That is what you do with a cool down period. The heart and other muscles are returned to a relaxed state gradually. The cool down period stretches those muscles one more time for good measure.

Why warm up and cool down? It is essential to prevent injuries and to be sure that you start and end a workout in the best way possible – with a body that is ready for the activity.