Every reputable personal trainer will always advocate the importance of a proper warm-up before getting into a workout, but how often do you heed their advice?
You're not alone if the answer is anything other than “all the time”. It turns out that most people tend to skip this vital step and jump right into their exercise routine.
The duration of a warm-up typically depends on your workout intensity, but it usually takes no more than several minutes and helps reduce stress on your muscles and heart.
It should go without saying that when warming up, you must target all the muscles that you’ll be using during your workout session. There are several reasons why the warm-up process is so important and emphasised by these fitness experts, and we outline five below.
1. Warm-ups improve muscle flexibility
Muscles receive greater blood flow and become more flexible as the body gets warmer, reducing the strain and stress on the joints and tendons during exercise.
In addition, warm and well-lubricated joints allow you to perform sudden movements more efficiently, significantly reducing the odds of acute injuries caused by overusing the muscles.
Although preventing severe injuries like bone fractures is well beyond the purview of warm-ups, spending 10 to 15 minutes doing them helps minimise strains,pulls, and overuse injuries like tendonitis.
2. Warm-ups prep the nervous system and cardiovascular system
A key advantage of warm-ups is that they prep the cardiovascular system for physical activity. When the muscles receive stimulation from movement, the heart pumps blood at a quicker rate.
By easing the cardiovascular system for the upcoming higher demand, warm-ups can help reduce the risk of high blood pressure.
The mind and body must work together to ensure a safe and efficient workout. Warm-ups let you re-adjust both from whatever you were doing before exercising. In short, warming up prepares you for a more mentally and physically challenging activity than you usually engage in when you’re not pumping iron.
3. Warm-ups increase your performance
The mental aspect of warming up lets you focus on the workout session ahead. It can also help improve your performance in terms of speed, strength, and flexibility so you can ‘get into the zone’ much quicker.
Warm-ups also diminish the soreness you feel after a workout since your body has been preconditioned to handle the increased demands you exert on it.
4. Warm-ups raise body temperature
Here’s a fun fact: the human body functions at its peak at a slightly higher temperature. Warming up lets you achieve this higher temperature, especially in colder conditions such as in the early mornings.
According to studies, another plus of slightly raising the body’s core temperature is that it can lead to a more efficient means of burning calories.
5. Warm-ups increase endurance
Your body is quicker to give up on exercising when there is an excess of lactic acid in your blood. In the first few minutes of your workout, this lactic acid buildup may occur if you skip the warm-up process, essentially starting your session in the worst possible way.
As such, take the time to warm up first to lessen the buildup of lactic acid so you can work out much harder and for longer.
As you can see, warm-ups serve various purposes - from protecting you against injuries, to conditioning your body to work at its most optimal level. Besides a good warm-up, your workout preparation should ideally include ensuring you have the right equipment for your exercise. Lastly, don’t forget to follow your post-workout recovery after exercising.
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