The Importance of Warming Up and Stretching When Exercising…

Colleen Juarez April 29, 2018 Exercise, Food & Nutrition, Health, Mind & Body

Have you ever committed to regular weekly workouts and then realized that you had too many things to do that day? I too find excuses to cut my workouts short. The truth is our free time is precious and limited. To “do it all” something has to give and cutting out your warm-up and/or stretches before and after workouts could give you that extra fifteen minutes that you need. Let me share with you why this approach is not such a good idea.

Warm-ups are crucial because they get your muscles ready for activity. Starting a workout with “cold” muscles can lead to injury. This is important for true beginners, seasoned pros, and everyone in between. Without warming up, not only do you risk injury you generally get less from your workout. An effective warm-up gets your muscles and ligaments to activate, stretch and lengthen and mentally prepares you for your workout.

Increased Blood Circulation

Warming up pumps nutrient-rich, oxygenated blood to your muscles. It speeds up your heart rate and breath. A good warm-up should last five to ten minutes and include all major muscle groups. Start slowly and gradually pick up the pace. I like to focus on range-of-motion exercises, such as jumping jacks. torso twists and lunges as well as some cardio. Walking in place while gently swinging your arms works well too or a little hip and arm swing to a favorite song is another great way one can warm up those cold muscles.

Warm Up Exercises Prepare You Mentally

Warm up exercises are also important as a form of mental preparation. Paying attention to how your body feels during the warm up phase can give you an indicator of how it is doing that day. Getting focused on what you are doing now and thinking about your workout helps you to be mindful and present for your workout giving you the ability to maximize your session. Your mind can ease into the workout being in the moment while experiencing, fully, your twinging muscles, stamina and strength that day.

The Difference Between Warm Up Exercises and Stretching

Adding stretches to your warm up may improve your exercise performance. Once your muscles are warm, spend a few minutes on stretching. Since the goal of your warm up is to increase your heart rate and get you ready for more intense work, choose stretches that can be done standing up. A good workout consists of a solid warm up, a period of stretching, a more strenuous portion increasing the heart rate and a cool down period, which includes lying down stretches. When you stretch for a cool-down it gives your muscles a chance to remove lactic acid, which can trigger next-day soreness. Holding these ending stretching for 10-20 seconds is recommended. These static stretches, lengthen each muscle by gradually increasing the tension. When you take the time to warm up before and stretch after your workouts you will experience fewer injuries and increase the enjoyment of every workout.

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