Warming up and cooling down when working out is important because it prepares the body psychologically and physically for exercise and may reduce injury to the joints and muscles.
Warming up exercises increases the blood flow to the muscles, which helps to loosen them up. Warming up exercises also gradually increases the heart rate and ensures that the demand on the heart and metabolism of the body is gradual, too. To be clear, warm up exercises should cause perspiration but it should not cause fatigue. Warm up exercises should last between 5-10 minutes. Examples of warm up exercises are dynamic stretches, walking or jogging to increase your body’s temperature or certain exercises for muscles that will be used during exercises.
Cool down exercise are just as important as warm up exercises. The focus on cooling down exercises is to decrease the intensity of your exercise session and to return your body to a resting state. The cooling down exercises return the blood back to your heart and brings down your heart rate gradually, prevents fainting and reduces the blood lactic acid levels.
There is a right and wrong way to warm up. To warm up the right and safe way, warm up right before you start your workout. Focus on the large muscle groups, such as your calves. Examples of warm-up activities are warming up for a walk by walking slowly for five to 10 minutes and when warming up for swimming, begin swimming slowly at first and then picking up the speed when you feel able to do so.
Keep in mind; when looking for time to warm up and cool down, you may find it, at times, challenging. However, by being creative, you can find ways to make it happen. For instance, walking to and from an area close to home—perhaps in your neighborhood--can prepare you for your daily walk or run. Some may not know it but a warm up should last at least 10 to 15 minutes. It is important to note that walking slowly and engaging in stretching exercises are two effective ways to warm up and cool down.
When engaging in water aerobics, you can do a warm up by walking in the pool or starting your swim with slow, leisurely laps. Before engaging in strength training, do a light aerobic activity such as 5 minutes of walking first. Another example of cooling down from a run is by slowing to a brisk walk or by walking at a leisurely pace. This could apply to the last 5 to 10 minutes of any exercise routine or sport. Cool down time could also be continued with calf and hamstring stretches. In addition, you could also end your cool down period with arm, chest, neck and shoulder stretches to help relax all of your major muscles in your body.
To conclude, warming up and cooling down are important for any exercise routine. It can prevent injuries to the body and is effective toward preparing and ending a workout.