You’ve prepared. You’ve given thought to what type(s) of exercise to undertake. If you’re a runner, you’ve selected appropriate running shoes and have charted your running path. If you’re strength training, you’ve researched nearby gyms or invested in weights, bands, kettle bells or other gear. Regardless of where and how you’re going to exercise, you’ve carved out time on your calendar for it.
But do you have a plan for warming up? Warming up your body before any form of exercise is another essential element of preparation. It can help you prepare both physically and mentally for your workout, and it can help prevent serious injury during your workout. But if you’re like most people, it’s hard enough to find time to actually do the exercise, let alone add in time to warm up.
Your warm-up routine will vary depending on the type of exercise you undertake. Regardless, the objective is to prepare your body and your mind for what’s coming. Here are a few basic warm-up tips.
A general warm-up should last 5 to 10 minutes, longer if you’re participating in a more vigorous program or performing a higher skill. If you’re properly warmed up, your heart rate should be no more than 10 beats above or below the low end of your training heart range, and you will have broken a light sweat.
When you’re finished with your workout, it’s important to gradually cool down, through some sort of light activity, like walking or slow jogging, or slow spinning or swimming, if you’ve undertaken those activities. Your cool-down should also include flexibility exercises covering your whole body, to help reduce residual muscle soreness.
Understanding the role a proper warm-up plays in your exercise regimen will help you stay injury free and increase your performance. Before undertaking any strenuous activity, it’s a good idea to check in with your doctor, to make sure your intended exercise program is right for you.
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