Monique Rana - Don't Skip the Warm-up or Cool down

Publish Date
Friday, 8 November 2013, 12:00AM
By Monique Rana

Although many people skip warming up and cooling down, the cool down step is probably the most overlooked piece of an effective exercise routine. 

How to warm up
Warming up prepares your body for exercise. It gradually revs up your cardiovascular system, increases blood flow to your muscles and raises your body temperature.

  • Choose a warm-up activity that uses the same muscles you'll use during your workout.
  • For example, if you're going to take a brisk 30-minute walk, walk slowly for five to 10 minutes to warm up.
  • If you have a tight or previously injured muscle, stretch the affected muscle after you warm up. Hold each stretch for about 10-20 seconds. Remember to keep it gentle.
  • Don't bounce. Sudden or aggressive movements may cause injury.


Cool Down
The process of cooling down after exercise is just as important as warming up. Cooling down:

  • Allows the body to dissipate waste products such as lactic acid generated during exercise  
  • Reduces the chances of blood pools occurring in the areas where blood supply has been concentrated on during exercise which may cause light-headedness, sudden shortness of breath, weakness and cramps.
  • Reduces the amount of adrenaline in the blood
  • Allows heart rate to gradually return to a state of rest.

Cooling down is similar to warming up. After your workout, walk or continue your activity at a low intensity for five to 10 minutes. For example, after a 30-minute session of brisk walking, cool down by slowing your walking pace for five to 10 minutes. Whilst warm up and cooling down does not guarantee injuries will not occur during exercise it can significantly reduces the chances if carried out properly.

Remember to stretch after your exercise session not before.

After you cool down, your muscles will be warm and receptive to stretching. Regular stretching increases your flexibility, improves circulation and helps maximize the range of motion of your joints. Focus on your calves, thighs, hips, lower back, neck and shoulders — or other muscles and joints that you routinely use at work or play.

  • Hold each stretch for about 15- 30 seconds, and then repeat the stretch on the other side.
  • Expect to feel tension while you're stretching.
  • Do not hold your breath during your stretches.
  • Do not bounce while stretching
  • If it hurts, back off to the point where you don't feel any pain. Relax and breathe freely throughout each stretch.

Be kind to your body Remember, the time you spend preparing for exercise and cooling down afterward may be as important as the exercise itself. Give your body the time it needs to adjust to the demands of your workout.

If you are feeling unusually tired, exhausted or sore.

Maybe your body is telling you REST!!

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