Knowledge is Power
Suppose you were told that you only had to add an extra five to 10 minutes to each of your workouts to prevent injury and lessen fatigue. Would you do it?
Most people would say yes. Then they might be surprised to learn that they already know about those few minutes, which are called a warm-up. If done correctly, a pre-exercise warm-up can have a multitude of beneficial effects on a person’s workout and, consequently, his or her overall health.
What happens in your body? When you begin to exercise, your cardiorespiratory and neuromuscular systems and metabolic energy pathways are stimulated. Muscles contract and, to meet their increasing demands for oxygen, your heart rate, blood flow, cardiac output and breathing rate increase. Blood moves faster through your arteries and veins and is gradually routed to working muscles.
Your blood temperature rises and oxygen is released more quickly, raising the temperature of the muscles. This allows the muscles to use glucose and fatty acids to burn calories and create energy for the exercise. All of these processes prepare the body for higher-intensity action.
Specifically, a gradual warm-up:
After the aerobic warm-up activity, you should incorporate flexibility/stretching exercises. Stretching muscles after warming them up with low-intensity aerobic activity will produce a better stretch, since the rise in muscle temperature and circulation increases muscle elasticity, making muscles more pliable. Be sure to choose flexibility exercises that stretch the primary muscles you will be using during your workout.
Make the Time To fully reap the benefits of the time you are spending exercising, you must warm up. Taking those extra few minutes to adjust to increased activity will ensure a better performance from your body and, in turn, will make your workout more efficient, productive and, best of all, enjoyable.
Additional Resources About.com: www.exercise.about.com/od/exerciseforbeginners/a/anatomyworkout_3.htm
Charity Bidegain, ACE Certified Personal Trainer. Supporting all who live the mission of helping us all to live healthier, more fulfilled lives.