The importance of warming-up and cooling down

September 24th, 2015

Why is warming up and cooling down so important to an exercise program?

The warm-up is a short five to ten minute period in which a person will get the body ready for the work you are about to put it through. In this process one focuses on raising the body temperature, giving the joints proper fluids for smoother movements, and stretching the big muscles throughout the body. It is very important to get your body ready for the game, performance or exercise session. A good warm-up may be able to prevent injuries to the muscles.

The cool-down phase is a very short 3-5 minute period at the end of an exercise. The purpose of the cool down is for the person to begin slowing down in their activity. In this process a person focuses on decreasing their body temperature and heart rate. One would also want to let the blood pressure revert back to normal during this time. Usually at the end of a cool down, stretching the muscles that one used is involved. A proper cool-down could reduce muscle soreness as well.

Warming up the body before any physical activity can prevent injuries to the muscles in many ways. When our joints get warmed up properly we do better and enhance the opportunity to perform at our best. If the joints are not warmed up properly then it is more likely that an injury could occur. Preventative injuries are not focused on often enough in the fitness industry and should be taken seriously. Warming up your body not only has physical benefits, but psychological benefits. Recognizing a person has taken all precautions against a mediocre warm-up positions the person to be in the best state of mind for him/her to perform at their best.

Cooling down the body after any physical activity is important and can reduce muscle soreness in many ways. When your body is done performing in everyday physical activities there must be some relief on the body. This is where the cool-down phase comes in. Every tight or sore muscle, elevated heart rate, and overheated body must be reduced back down to normal ranges. It is vital for the body to get back to its normal state, to be able to perform at the same level if not better for the next workout. After the entire goal is to create a consistent workout regimen day in and day out, right? To get in better shape and live a healthier life, the cool down stage is of extreme importance. Stretching, drinking water and walking are just some things you may implement into your own cool downs.

There are three types of warm-ups one should focus on when preparing for a workout or activity.

The first type is called the passive warm-up and involves increasing your body temperature by external means. Such methods included massages, hot shower, steam rooms and heating pads. Passive warm-ups are least commonly used.

The second type is called the general warm-up and this increases body temperature using non-specific body movements. Some examples of this would be low intensity jogging or cycling, controlled arm circles, jumping jacks and more.

The last type is called a specific movement warm-up and involves raising body temperature by using the biomechanics that are used in more intense activities. This is seen often with athletes. The athlete would basically be going through the movements that will be required of them when competing until fully warmed up. If you are unsure of what type of warm up would work best for you, then you can never go wrong with a general warm-up. Never forget that a controlled cool-down after your workouts will help alleviate some soreness.

Credit: Kor’Rae Manson, OAOnline