• Hannah Hicks

Do I really need to Warm Up and Cool Down?

Updated: May 24



I know how you feel- the last thing I want to do before jumping into a fun exercise class is to warm up. I’d much rather have a post-game dance party with my teammates than stretch. Even though it may add a few extra minutes to your workout, warming up and cooling down is vital to performing your best and getting the most out of your workout, whether you are a beginner, frequent exerciser, or professional athlete.


Why do we need to warm up?



Prepares your body for exercise


Warming up gives your body an opportunity to ease into exercise. It prepares your body for the specific movements and intensity of your workout by warming your muscles and increasing circulation, body temperature, and heart rate. It also pumps oxygen and nutrient-rich blood to your muscles. This helps you get the most out of your workout and/or perform at your peak.


Can prevent Injuries


Warming up may reduce muscle soreness and lessen the risk of injury by loosening the joints and increasing blood flow to muscles. Keeping muscles warm can prevent acute injuries like hamstring pulls and strains, and it helps avoid overuse injuries by gradually preparing the body for exercise.


Helps you mentally prepare


Warming up gives athletes (and recreational exercisers!) an opportunity to mentally prepare for a competition or practice. Speaking from my own experience, it helps me get in the right headspace to perform my best. Teams can also use this time to practice together briefly before a game or competition.


Why do we need to cool down?



Helps restore your body to its pre-exercise state


Cooling down gives your body the chance to gradually recover to its resting heart rate, body temperature, and blood pressure.


Helps prevent dizziness


Dizziness can occur from stopping a high-intensity activity too quickly. However, cooling down can help prevent this by gradually lowering the intensity of your exercise.


Prevents lactic acid build-up


Cooling down helps the body dispose of toxins and waste products created during exercise, like lactic acid. When lactic acid builds up during exercise, it can cause stiffness and cramps the next day.


Relaxes your muscles


Stretching in a cool down lengthens your muscles to improve your range of motion. It also helps them relax, which helps with muscle recovery and may reduce muscle cramps after exercise.


How to warm up and cool down


Warming up and cooling down should each take about 5-10 minutes and focus on main muscle groups.



Warming up

  • You should warm-up right before your workout

  • Many warm-ups focus on light cardiovascular activities and range of motion exercises

  • Start with a low intensity and gradually pick it up

  • It may make you sweat, but you should be fatigued

  • Some examples:

  • A dynamic warm-up with exercises specific to your activity

  • Walking slowly before a brisk walk

  • Walking briskly or jogging before a run

  • Swimming lightly before an intense swim



Cooling Down

  • You should cool down right after your workout

  • Many cooldowns are similar to your workout but at a slower-paced and reduced intensity

  • Gradually lower the intensity to ease out of exercise

  • Some examples:

  • Walking slowly after a brisk walk

  • Walk briskly or jogging after a run

  • Swimming lightly after swimming intensely

  • Stretching is another important part of a cooldown

  • Consists of slow movements and stretches

  • Hold each stretch for about 10-30 seconds

  • Best done after the cooldown when your muscles are warm (do NOT stretch cold muscles)


So, do I really need to warm up and cool down?



The answer is yes! You absolutely need to warm up and cool down to ease your body in and out of exercise. It will help you perform your best, get the most out of your activity, and recover.




SOURCES


https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/exercise-101-dont-skip-the-warm-up-or-cool-down

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/exercise/art-20045517

http://www.nsmi.org.uk/articles/injury-prevention/index.html

Recent Posts

See All