Fitness week 1: How to warm up
Jan 1 2010 The Journal
EXERCISE OF THE WEEK – The Warm Up
Find yourself aching so much you haven't been able to walk for three days? You have probably just done your first bit of exercise this year without a proper warm up or cool down. It’s important to have warm up and cool down routines before you exercise.
The warm up will increase the blood flow to the working muscles, resulting in decreased muscle stiffness, less risk of injury and a higher level of performance. The cool down decreases the body temperature and heart rate. It also allows the muscles to recover much quicker by removing waste products that have built up during exercise.
You will all have your own ideas of warming up and it does not involve standing next to a radiator for 5 minutes as some people think! General aerobic exercise such as walking, cycling or jogging will allow your muscles to warm up, increasing your heart rate sufficiently until you feel you are able to push your body further with ease. This should take around 10 minutes.
To warm your top half skipping is a good added exercise. If you are more advanced and warming up for a specific event or sport, warm ups can take up to 60 minutes and would involve more specific exercises.
At home walking or jogging on a small trampoline is ideal - it's soft, bouncy and puts no pressure on your joints.
The cool down involves exercising much slower so your heart rate comes down and you feel back to normal. This should take just a few minutes. If you have been exercising intensely this may take longer.
You might be wondering about stretches. The best time to stretch is after exercise when your muscles are warm and have a greater range of movement. Stretching when muscles are cold has a much higher injury risk such as a pull or tear.
The perfect warm up is a very individual process that comes with practice, experimentation and experience. Try different warm ups until you find what works best.
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