Warm up? Come on but why? I took pre workout! Stretch? seriously? I get a cool down walking to the car, do I really need to do this? I am very much guilty of not doing this all the time but since I began incorporating this into my routine there are some benefits. Although we may be in a hurry to leave the gym at times especially when we really had a great workout, we need to look at taking an extra 5-10 minutes warm up before the workout and cool down after the main workout. You will realize its a bit more relaxing then going out the door with your heart still racing after a great routine. Here are some suggestions/benefits of doing a warm up and a cool down. Lets start with the warm up first:
It decreases stiffness during the workout
A lot of our body parts aren’t utilized very much or at least to the capacity of loosening and ready to take exercise right away. A majority of the time if we aren’t exercising then we aren’t stretching which only leaves the body to feel a bit tighter day after day. This will help your body to be a bit more ready to take a lot of the intense workouts a bit better. You will notice a difference especially if you have never warmed up prior to workouts including sports or weightlifting. I recommend using the foam roller, resistance bands, or just an exercise mat while doing standard stretches.
Improved Range of Motion
We talked about stiffness but do we truly know how our joints are supposed to move? Most of the time we feel our shoulders tighten or knees unable to really perform well. In exercise we are using all parts of the body and in order for those parts to perform they need to be able to move fully.
Sometimes you need to just get in the “zone” or at least get out of your thoughts about the many stressors or things that are weighing on your brain. The warms up are great especially if you exercise right after work and go straight to the gym. It gives you time to transition to your workout and focus on the task on hand. You most likely will begin to feel better after the warm up! These are just a few of the benefits/suggestions for warm ups. There are more depending on your sport and of course what you prefer. All it takes is a few minutes to get your body going and you will feel a bit better overall.
Lets talk about the best part (in my opinion) of the workouts which is the “Cool Down”…
Allows the body time to recover
You most likely did not go to the gym to have a half done workout so give your heart rate and body temperature time to cool down. This can be down by using the exercise mat for several flexibility stretches laying down. If you are on a aerobic machine like the treadmill walking at a slower pace and low speed helps to bring the heart down as well.
It helps with a lot of your flexibility as well when doing a lot of the cool down stretches.
Warming up and cooling down are probably the most overlooked when it comes to exercise. We are always in a hurry and want the quick way verses taking your time. I am guilty of this myself but when you warm up notice how your performance improves and when you cool down notice how relaxed your body becomes as well as your mind!