Warm up and cool down vital to exercise plan

By Meagan Kline

Warming up and cooling down pre- and post-exercise are important steps that far too many people forget, or just don’t do. A good warm up and a proper cool down can increase the effectiveness of your exercise session, and help your muscles not hurt quite as bad the next day.

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​Why is it important to warm-up?

It is important to begin any exercise with a brief warm-up period. Warming up helps prepare your body for exercise and kick starts your cardiovascular system to begin working harder. It also allows for a slow increase in body temperature and increased blood flow to active muscles. In general, a warm-up involves doing your activity at a much lower pace and intensity.

A warm-up will only add a few minutes to your total workout. It takes your muscles about 3 minutes to adjust to the added blood requirements. Plan to spend about 5 minutes easing into exercise and incorporating stretches for large muscle groups.

Why is it important to cool-down?

After you have completed an exercise bout, it is important to allow your muscles and heart to recover gently. They have been working hard and need time to slow down.

A cool-down is especially important for your heart; it helps slow your heart rate and helps return the blood to your heart adequately without blood pooling in your feet. An appropriate cool-down may also help reduce muscle tightness and injury.

Common symptoms of an improper cool down include dizziness, nausea and feeling “worn out”. All cool-downs should include a brief period of stretching as well. For stretching to be effective, each stretch must be held for at least 20 seconds.​