Hello everyone. Today’s article is a guest post from Jennifer Bayliss, MSEd, ATC, CSCS, who is Manager of Fitness for Everyday Health.
It is important to warm up before exercise for several reasons. The most important reason is the prevention of injury. It may add a few minutes to your workout, but it will allow you the opportunity to get even more out of your workouts.
A general warm-up increases your core body temperature and gives the blood vessels an opportunity to dilate, or increase in size. This allows the blood to travel much easier through the vessels and lowers the stress on the heart. It can improve endurance through the warming process as it allows oxygen to become more readily available to the working muscles. A proper warm-up increases the temperature within the muscles themselves and allows them to contract more forcefully and to relax more quickly. This allows for greater strength and speed gains to take place.
Warming up your body gets the sweat process started before your workout even begins to make sure your body doesn’t overheat. It also has the same effect on your joints that it does on your muscles. It warms them up, gets the fluids flowing more readily within them, allowing for greater range of motion to occur.
Additional benefits of warming up include physiological and psychological preparation. A warm-up is also a good time to mentally prepare for an event by clearing the mind, increasing focus, and reviewing skills and strategy.
How To Warm Up
All exercise sessions should be preceded by a warm-up. Warm-ups tend to be more dynamic or aerobic in nature. Warm-ups should consist of 5-10 minutes of low-intensity exercise that emphasizes the same muscles to be used in the exercise session. They should begin gradually and build in intensity.
Begin with full-body movements that increase body temperature and increase blood flow to the heart and muscles. As your body becomes warmer, you can work into some sport or exercise specific movements or continue with the same full body movements that increase in speed or intensity. For those who like to stretch a little bit before exercise, this would be the point to add some stretches in. You don’t want to stretch a cold muscle.
If you are doing a general exercise session, or a strength training session, try walking or cycling at an easy to moderate pace for 5-10 minutes, followed by light, short-duration preparatory static stretches of muscles that will be targeted during the exercise session and/or that are commonly tight. Hold each static stretch for 20 seconds.
If you are doing a cardio session, start at a lower intensity of the same mode of exercise you will be performing. Gradually build up the speed or intensity until you move into your workout session.
For a sport specific warm-up, it is important to make your warm-up relative to your sport. For instance, if you are runner, try jogging for a few minutes and then adding a few short sprints before beginning your run. For volleyball, ride a stationary bike for 5 minutes, then add some light vertical jumping with overhead arm swings, arm circles, alternating forward and side lunges, and then follow it up with some static stretches.
Make sense? Now start moving.
About the Author:
Guest Blogger Jennifer Bayliss, MSEd, ATC, CSCS, is Manager of Fitness for Everyday Health