The importance of exercise in preventive medicine cannot be overemphasized. Exercise is also important in improving athletic performance among athletes and in maintaining cardiopulmonary fitness.
It is also very important to note that warming up and cooling down may offer help in reducing your risk of injury and improving overall performance.
Before you jump on the treadmill or stair master, consider doing a brief warmup first and following up with a cool-down session after exercise. Sure, a warmup and cool-down may add a few minutes to your exercise routine, but they might also reduce stress on your heart and other muscles.
Why warm-up and cool-down
Warmups and cool-downs generally involve doing your activity at a slower pace and reduced intensity.
Warming up helps prepare your body for aerobic activity. A warmup gradually revs up your cardiovascular system by raising your body temperature and increasing blood flow to your muscles. Warming up may also help reduce muscle soreness and lessen your risk of injury.
Cooling down after your workout allows for a gradual recovery of pre-exercise heart rate and blood pressure. Cooling down may be most important for competitive endurance athletes, such as marathoners because it helps regulate blood flow.
How to warm-up
Warm-up right before you plan to start your workout. In general, warm up by focusing first on large muscle groups, such as your hamstrings. Then you can do exercises more specific to your sport or activity, if necessary.
A warmup may produce mild sweating but generally won't leave you fatigued.
Here are some examples of warm-up activities:
- To warm-up for a brisk walk, walk slowly for five to 10 minutes.
- To warm-up for a run, walk briskly for five to 10 minutes.
- To warm-up for swimming, swim slowly at first and then pick up the tempo as you're able.
How to cool down
Cooling down is like warming up. You generally continue your workout session for five minutes or so but at a slower pace and reduced intensity.
Here are some examples of cool-down activities:
- To cool down after a brisk walk, walk slowly for five to 10 minutes.
- To cool down after a run, walk briskly for five to 10 minutes.
- To cool down after swimming, swim laps leisurely for five to 10 minutes.
Finding time for regular aerobic workouts — plus warming up and cooling down — can be challenging. But with a little creativity, you can probably fit it in. For example, walking to and from the gym can be your warmup and cool-down.